Borough-wide bus revamp leads to renewed call for the B71 bus’s return

Borough-wide bus revamp leads to renewed call for the B71 bus’s return
Brad Lander

A group of neighborhood activists and local pols are renewing their demand that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority restore the B71 bus line in light of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plan to revamp Brooklyn’s bus network and the city’s scheme to stuff 20,000 new residents in Gowanus through an upcoming rezoning.

“The need for it has not abated since 2010 when they took it away,” said Council Member Brad Lander (D–Park Slope), who created a petition calling for the return of the B71. “This redesign is a great opportunity.”

Lander pointed out the bus once served nine schools, three senior centers, and multiple public housing developments. It also provided a direct link for Brooklynites who lived near the waterfront to get to the borough’s cultural center, where Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Branch, Brooklyn Museum, Children’s Museum, Botanical Garden and Prospect Park are located.

As it stands, Carroll Gardens, Gowanus and Columbia Street Waterfront District residents have to take a subway trip with one or more transfers to get to the eastern end of Brooklyn’s Backyard by mass transit.

The petition comes in the midst of a sweeping overhaul of the borough’s bus system by the state-run transit authority. Transit honchos have been surveying riders in the borough in an effort to speed up and expand bus service, amidst a decline in bus ridership borough and city-wide.

It also comes as Gowanus, which the bus once rolled through, is on the verge of a rezoning that could bring up to 8,200 new apartments to the neighborhood, according to housing experts.

The B71 once ran from the Columbia Street Waterfront District, up Union Street through Carroll Gardens, Gowanus, Park Slope, and Prospect Heights before turning around in Crown Heights.

The MTA eliminated the line along with 10 other Brooklyn bus lines, in 2010, citing budget cuts.

The petition calls for the B71 to be restored to its previous service area and for an extension to be added through Red Hook to Lower Manhattan through the Battery Tunnel. Red Hook is currently only served by two local bus lines and a ferry stop, despite its proximity to the Battery tube.

Transportation bigwigs said they are open to suggestions and encouraged locals to attend one of the many open houses, which will be held regularly starting this week as part of the Authority’s bus redesign efforts.

“We encourage the public to attend one of our open houses and get involved in the process,” said authority spokesman Andrei Berman. “MTA bus planners will take the feedback they receive into account.”

Reach reporter Ben Verde at (718) 260–2525 or by e-mail at bverde@schnepsmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @verde_nyc.