Business advocates stand up to MTA over Bed-Stuy transit cuts

Business advocates stand up to MTA over Bed-Stuy transit cuts
Photo by Kevin Duggan

A brownstone Brooklyn business group is standing in the way of a Metropolitan Transportation Authority scheme to cut service along a Bedford-Stuyevsant bus route.

The Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership is calling on straphangers to sign an online petition demanding the Transit Authority to reverse its plans to reduce service along the B54’s Bushwick-to-Downtown bus route, which the local group’s chief said is a vital aspect of the community’s transit network.

“For most of Myrtle Avenue — but particularly in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill — the B54 is the only transit link,” said the bid’s executive director Chad Purkey.

The agency plans to eliminate the amount of buses and increase wait times along the B54 — which runs along Myrtle Avenue through Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Clinton Hill, and Fort Greene to Jay Street in America’s Downtown — by this fall, along with changes to two other Kings County routes, including the B38 and the B15, documents show.

Transit honchos claim the decision to cannibalize the B54 was inspired by ridership figures along the bus route, which will suffer from longer waits ranging from one to three minutes during the morning peak, midday, and evening hours, while keeping the same schedule as current during the evening peak times.

And while busses will run less frequently along the route, the Authority predicts that remaining buses will stop make their stops more on time, and that occupancy along the route will be higher 22 percent higher on a bus-by-bus basis, according to a spokeswoman.

“The B54 received minimal schedule changes of one to three minutes to align more closely with ridership and the actual travel time on the route, so buses run more on time – a priority we’ve heard from our ridership – and with fewer empty seats,” said Amanda Kwan in an emailed statement.

The agency will continue to take suggestions from straphangers as city transit gurus redesign the bus routes across citywide in the coming months as part of the organization’s Fast Forward plan, according to Kwan.

“We welcome customer feedback as we approach our planned redesign of the entire Brooklyn bus network in the coming months when we will re-examine the route network for the first time in decades,” she said.

But the Transit Authority shouldn’t expect much positive feedback when it comes to taking buses off the street, and one Bedford-Stuyvesant straphanger feared that the cuts will make her daily Downtown commute more difficult.

“For me I think it’s going to be hard, a lot of people use the B54,” said Esmeralda. “It is not only workers, but it’s also for students, college students, regular, elementary, because this is like the main busiest line besides the B38.”

The straphanger worried that some travelers may opt to use their car instead.

“There’s a lot of people who have situations in life, they have to drop off the kids before and they often go by the bus times to get to work on time,” she said. “They’re going to have to start looking for parking so they can get to work on time.”

And Purkey argued that Kings County’s not only would business located in the BID’s commercial hot spots of Clinton Hill and Fort Greene — which are 10 to 15 minutes away from subway service via the J, M, and G lines — take a hit from the cuts, but that Brooklyn’s must vulnerable residents will feel the thinner bus fleet most deeply

“Particularly for seniors in the neighborhood or people who might not be able to rely on ride hail — cutting service for them seems unacceptable,” he said.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.