Local elected officials pledged support to bringing back full B4 bus service and other public transportation improvements to the area at last night’s Sheepshead Bay Transit Town Hall, organized by Sheepshead Bites, Transportation Alternatives, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz and the Sheepshead Bay – Plumb Beach Civic Association.
More than 50 people turned out for the event to share their experiences with mass transportation in the area, emphatically expressing the community’s desire to restore the B4 to a 24/7 bus line after service cuts in 2010 eliminated the line east of Ocean Parkway on weekends and off-peak hours on weekdays. The Sheepshead Bay – Plumb Beach Civic Association presented elected officials with a petition signed by more than 1,000 people, and when a representative from Transportation Alternatives asked the crowd how many of them were affected by the B4 cuts, every hand in the room went up.
“Over 90 percent of our residents in this community rely on mass transit regularly,” Cymbrowitz said in his opening statements. “Ideas that appear brilliant on paper often fail to deliver in practice. One example? The decision to provide B4 bus service to Knapp Street and Voorhies Avenue during peak periods Monday to Friday, leaving thousands of potential riders without viable mass transit services.”
Councilman Fidler sent over a letter from the president of MTA Bus regarding BM3/BM4 service, discussed at last week’s subway meeting. MTA says a decrease in riders is the reason for cutting BM3 service, though we heard whispers that the ridership survey was done on a Jewish holiday. And now that there’s no B express, and as complaints roll in about congested cars on both lines, more people will be interested in a bus alternative. But gripes aside, they say they’re looking into scheduling an earlier BM4 bus. Congrats, residents of Gerritsen Beach. Now when do we get something?
Local leaders pressed MTA officials and the agency’s contractor for proposals and promises from the authority this morning, but the biggest payoff appears to be for residents of Gerritsen Beach and communities east of Sheepshead Bay.
“Did a magic bullet appear? No,” said Councilman Lew Fidler of the meeting. “The thing that probably will come out of it – and we’re optimistic will come out of it – and it doesn’t affect a whole lot of people, but it does affect Weinstein’s constituents and mine – there was some willingness to consider reversing some of the service cuts on the BM3 and BM4 buses. That’s the thing we’re most optimistic will happen, but obviously it doesn’t help the vast majority of people affected by the construction.”
It appears the MTA came unaware of the demands and complaints awaiting them.
“They were there to tell their side of the story, and I think that’s all they thought they were there for,” said George Broadhead, president of the Gerritsen Beach Property Owners Association. Broadhead said they came to discuss the construction plans, not alter them. However, the meeting changed direction when Broadhead brought up the recent service changes to the BM3 and BM4 buses, which provide alternative Manhattan-bound service to Gerritsen Beach and the eastern portion of Sheepshead Bay. Those bus routes now leave many riders with only the handicapped B/Q line.
The MTA officials present only represented the subway service, and according to sources at the meeting, they were unaware of the bus division’s actions and dismissed it as the other branch’s responsibility.
“[State Senator Carl] Kruger blew his top,” said one source who asked not to be named. “[The MTA was] there to really apologize for all the bullcrap. But I think they got a taste of it from Kruger.”
Kruger scolded the MTA for its dismissive attitude towards bus alternatives, reportedly saying, “We bailed you out with billions of tax-payer dollars, and now you’re telling me the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing?” Continue Reading »