Deja vu all over again as activists fight to save Cortelyou Road bus

The cold winter of 2010 finds community activists reprising the role they played in early 2009, as they muster their forces to fight off draconian service cuts proposed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), in an effort to help the authority crawl out of a sea of red ink.

For Flatbush residents, that effort means trying to save the Cortelyou Road bus, the B-23, which the authority plans to axe.

To that end, Community Board 14 has posted a petition on its Web site, www.cb14brooklyn.com, which members hope will prove to the MTA that the bus is a key neighborhood asset, and that its loss — just one among a laundry list of service cuts that the authority has proposed — would be devastating to both merchants and residents.

In addition, the petition advocates that the authority – which is facing a $400 million deficit this year — continue to issue student MetroCards.

The B-23, the petition asserts, “provides unique access to the Q, B, F, D, and M trains, the Cortelyou Road and Flatbush Avenue commercial strips, schools, restaurants, hospitals and cultural institutions.“

In addition, it contends that student Metro Cards “give students the opportunity to attend schools outside their area.”

Ayear ago, CB 14 also mounted a petition drive to save the B-23 bus, which runs from 62nd Street and New Utrecht Avenue, via 16th Avenue and Cortelyou Road, to Flatbush Avenue.

The effort to preserve the B-23 is “About two things, a sense of neighborhood and the economic vitality of the Cortelyou Road strip,” explained Alvin Berk, the board’s chair.

“Our concern is that any savings the MTA would achieve by ending B-23 servicewould end up costing the city more in tax revenue if there’s an adverse impact on commercial activity along Cortelyou Road,” Berk went on. “It’s particularly frustrating to us to see this just as Cortelyou Road is experiencing a renaissance.”

At the board’s February meeting, which was held at Public School 249, Caton Avenue and Marlborough Road, New York City Public AdvocateBill De Blasio expressed opposition to the MTA’s plans to cut entire bus lines, calling them, “One of the foundational things we have to fight over. We have to make sure they will be there in the future.”

Besides the B-23, the MTA proposes axing 23 other bus lines and two subway lines later this year. Many of the proposed cuts were made last year but revoked when the authority was bailed out by the state legislature in a deal that included a 25 cent fare hike, but preserved the lines that had been proposed for elimination.

Opponents of the service cuts will have an opportunity to tell MTA brass their views early next month, at a public hearing to be held on March 3rd, beginning at 6 p.m., in the Brooklyn Museum’s Cantor Auditorium, 200 Eastern Parkway.