Trolley operators fire back at our cover story

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To the editor,

We write regarding your recent cover story about the Heart of Brooklyn tourism trolley (“Marty’s trolley folly,” Sept. 8). Heart of Brooklyn was well aware of the shortcomings of the existing program and, in fact, asked for more research on cultural trolleys to be compiled.

Heart of Brooklyn was looking to the trolley study for detailed information on successful transportation programs upon which to model a new program. It is unfortunate that the article did not focus on Heart of Brooklyn’s efforts to implement a new trolley initiative, one supported by solid research.

The Borough President’s funding will support this new program, with the marketing plan being developed over the next few weeks. Brooklynites are fortunate to have a borough president who understands the importance of cultural tourism and its economic impact.

The letter was signed by Ellen Salpeter, executive director of Heart of Brooklyn; Carol Enseki of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum; Scot D. Medbury of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden; Arnold Lehman of the Brooklyn Museum; Dionne Mack-Harvin of the Brooklyn Public Library, Tupper Thomas of the Prospect Park Alliance; and Denise McClean of the Prospect Park Zoo.

• • •

To the editor,

I authored the study mentioned in your editorial about the Heart of Brooklyn trolley (“Bklyn’s Tourist Trap,” Sept. 8), which pointed out that the Heart of Brooklyn trolley — like most of the other cultural trolleys that operate around the five boroughs — has struggled to attract large numbers of riders and produce meaningful increases in attendance at participating cultural institutions.

Despite the problems, however, it’s too soon to give up on cultural trolleys. While the Brooklyn Museum and BAM are already well-known institutions, many of the cultural venues in Brooklyn and the other boroughs remain out of sight and mind for both tourists and New Yorkers. If done effectively, cultural trolleys can help local institutions attract visitors who are either unfamiliar with these neighborhoods or deterred by their inadequate transit connections.

Rather than discontinue the Heart of Brooklyn route, Brooklyn officials ought to ramp up efforts to promote the trolley. Currently, it’s not even listed on the NYC & Company Web site or the homepages of many of the sponsoring institutions.

Additionally, Heart of Brooklyn might consider periodic trolley rides to parts of the borough that don’t have an easy transit connection to central Brooklyn. For instance, why not use the trolley to attract more visitors from neighborhoods like Williamsburg, Red Hook or Bay Ridge?

Heart of Brooklyn is already looking to make some of these changes. Let’s give them a chance to make a good idea work better. Tara Colton, Park Slope

The writer is associate research director of the Center for an Urban Future.

Arabic school daze

To the editor,

I thought your story on the opening of the Khalil Gibran International Academy assumed that everyone is stupid (“Media descends on Gibran as Arabic school opens,” Sept. 8).

Ask Debbie Almontaser if she stated that it was not Arabic Muslims who caused 9-11. Ask her who she thinks perpetrated that horrendous crime.

Ask Rabbi Ellen Lippmann what the word “intifada” means. Would she get upset if I was a principal and let kids wear T-shirts with Swastikas? After all, they are only ancient symbols of native tribes — they do not imply killing Jews.

Also, is the school an Arabic school or an “Islamic culture” school — it’s a big difference. How about a “Catholic culture” school? Every liberal in the country would crawl out of the woodwork to protest.

I have an idea: a public school for kids that teaches American history, science, art, English, math and gym only. That is how I want my tax dollars spent!

How do I start the ball rolling on an Italian culture school?

Janet DiBernardo, Park Slope

What the ‘F’?

To the editor,

I read your editorial about the F express (“Who needs the F express?” Sept. 15) and I agree wholeheartedly. Your Brooklyn Brownstone constituents see the word “express” and automatically think it will result in a faster ride — for them. In point of fact, the line is not set up to provide just the sort of express service that you might benefit from.

The planners of the subway, which opened in 1933, could not foresee how various communities would evolve, and, as a result, there are problems in providing the most-beneficial service due to the peculiar track configuration.

The service that would most benefit your readers would offer two local services on the Manhattan-bound line, one via the Rutgers Street tunnel and the other via Houston Street. No bottleneck would result here from such a service.

The problem as always lies with the G train. For any modification of service to take place, the G train would have to be extended to Church Avenue. And this is seen as frankly wasteful — the G is simply empty or underutilized.

To truly solve this problem, I see only one solution: The upper level of Bergen St. station should be expanded to three tracks to allow for termination of G trains at that point. In that way only can the F service be improved without any blockage from G trains switching or having their presence on the local tracks prevent the establishment of another local service.

Obviously some heavy construction will be involved, and several buildings along Smith Street will have to have sturdier underpinning. But I see this as the only solution to the problem with your service.

William Zucker, Brighton Beach

• • •

To the editor,

I would like to first address your assumption that due to a supposed bottleneck at York Street, “there may not be enough capacity to add trains.” This is an unfounded claim. There are numerous lines in the system where express and local tracks feed into one. Express service and increased train capacity have led to a lessening of crowded trains, an example of this would be on the number 7 line.

For those who do not live at express stops, the addition of extra trains, the extension of the G to Church Ave and the idea of possibly extending the V train will provide timely service to those stations. Riders will experience a less-crowded train and a more-comfortable ride. The riders on the express train, some of who come from a greater distance, will experience a shorter commute.

F express service, along with the other improvements mentioned, would provide more-complete service with no new capital projects needed. There is no other location in the city that I know of that offers this opportunity. An adjustment in service that will benefit such a large constituency that can be done with seemingly little effort is a necessity.

Bill DeBlasio, Park Slope

The writer is a member of the City Council.

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