B61 buses will come more often — but not often enough for Red Hookers

B61 buses will come more often — but not often enough for Red Hookers
The Brooklyn Paper / Allyse Pulliam

The MTA will add more rush-hour buses to the flaky B61 route — and Red Hook straphangers say don’t stop there.

On the heels of a searing report indicating that the packed bus comes erratically when it comes at all, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority agreed on Monday to add one extra bus per hour during the evening rush beginning in April.

The extra wheels will decrease waiting times from 10 minutes to 9 minutes between 3:30 pm and 7 pm to alleviate crowding, a spokesman for the agency said.

Riders in transportation-starved Red Hook say it’s a half-solution that still leaves morning commuters and school-bound kids out in the cold, literally and figuratively.

“It’s a good down payment but there’s plenty of work to do,” said Brad Kerr, who rides the B61 home from work. “More buses in the morning would be an awesome second step.”

The additional service comes after an exhaustive report put together by Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) found that fewer than half of the buses on the route — which runs from Red Hook to Downtown via Park Slope — arrived on time during “peak hours” and the rest showed up at least three minutes early or late.

Only 43 percent came on time during rush hour, which is twice as bad as the B44, a line that Straphangers Campaign named the least reliable “key route” in the borough last year.

That was particularly infuriating to Red Hook residents who have few other public transportation options, especially after the MTA cut the B71 bus and closed the Smith-Ninth Street train station for lengthy repairs

Red Hook riders now want the city to add more buses between 7 am and 9 am and extend the nearby B57 line, which starts in Vinegar Hill and terminates in Carroll Gardens.

Lander also wants the agency to provide a satellite-guided tracking system so straphangers know when their ride will actually arrive, much like the system that B63 users currently enjoy.

That said, he’s pleased with the new evening buses.

“I am happy to see that the MTA is listening,” Lander said.

The MTA says it will take a look at extending the B57 and adding extra buses during the morning commute, a spokeswoman said. The agency expects to have an answer within two weeks.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.