THE COMMUTE: Last week I criticized the MTA for referring to the proposed service restorations announced last month as “service investments.” Although 17 out of the 32 proposals are restorations and 15 are new services, these numbers are misleading because most of the proposed new services are minor in nature, such as adding overnight service on a route when buses usually operate hourly. On the basis of cost, the vast majority of the proposals are service restorations and only one-third of what was cut is being returned. Further, none of the new services proposed (click on New York City Transit) serves southern Brooklyn.
Last March, I did a two-part series of proposed bus route changes for southern Brooklyn. These are truly service investments. The proposals greatly improve access within southern Brooklyn by making many three-bus trips possible while using only one or two buses and providing alternatives to indirect subway trips via Downtown Brooklyn just to travel within southern Brooklyn.
First I described why we need better bus service. Then I described my proposals to combine the B2 with the B100; to truncate the B82 at Coney Island Avenue where the B50 previously terminated before it was combined with the B5; to extend the B2 via the B82 route to Coney Island and, to extend the B31 along 65th Street to Bay Ridge.
I also proposed a new Q51 from the Sheepshead Bay station following the existing B4 route in Sheepshead Bay and continuing along Knapp Street, Avenue U and Flatbush Avenue to the Rockaways. The Q51 would operate every 20 minutes. Combined with the B4, service to Sheepshead Bay station along Emmons would operate every 10 minutes instead of every 20.
I also proposed a change to the proposed B44 SBS. The reasons for the proposed changes were discussed in that two-part series so there is no need to reiterate them again.
The reason I am revisiting this subject now is because Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis hosted an MTA round table meeting at her office this past July 27th to discuss the future of public transportation in Southwest Brooklyn. During the meeting, a new 65th Street route was suggested, which would terminate at Lutheran Medical Center. No eastern terminus was specified. It is not known if the route mentioned was based on my March articles or was thought of independently. What is important, however, is that other communities within southern Brooklyn also see the need for such a route, and by working with them, we can make it a reality, just like we got the B4 restored.
Now is the time to suggest real service investments for southern Brooklyn, now that the MTA is considering them. Why should new services be provided only for Dumbo, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, East New York and Spring Creek when the need in southern Brooklyn is just as great? To illustrate just how much access would be improved with the proposals I suggested, I drew two maps showing current access and proposed access for the communities of Marine Park and Gerritsen Beach. The standards I used are a one-quarter mile walk to a bus route and a half-mile walk to a subway route, which is the industry standard.
You will notice the large number of areas in blue and purple on the Current Access Map. The purple represents access that is available only by bus and train via Downtown Brooklyn. The blue represents access by three or more buses requiring a double fare for those without unlimited ride cards.
In the Proposed Access Map, virtually all the blue and purple areas disappear. Most trips would be possible by one or two buses, by subway, or by bus and train at a single fare. That was my goal when I created the very successful Southwest Brooklyn changes in 1978.
At that time the MTA only accepted approximately 25 percent of my proposals. Over the years, a few more were accepted, such as extending Staten Island local routes from 95th Street to 86th Street and instituting a through 86th Street route from Fourth Avenue to McDonald Avenue and beyond. (I proposed that the B1 — which I called B86 — continue all the way to Shore Road and 101st Street, taking over the B16, which would be truncated to 86th Street.)
Independently, the MTA also accepted my B83 extension to Gateway Mall, which took them five years to study after initially rejecting the idea. (You can see my 2006 proposals for southern Brooklyn here, which also includes proposals to improve access to JFK Airport and to Gateway Mall in Spring Creek from southern Brooklyn.)
In 1978, the MTA started to make major changes to southern Brooklyn bus routes, but left the job incomplete. Now is the time to make true service investments in Southern Brooklyn bus service by revamping local bus routes. Merely adding one or two Select Bus Service routes and no subway extensions over the next few decades falls far short of what is needed. Buses can play a far greater role than they currently do.
The Commute is a weekly feature highlighting news and information about the city’s mass transit system and transportation infrastructure. It is written by Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of MTA/NYC Transit Bus Planning (1981).
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