It pays to screech! MTA restores Courier Life columnist’s favorite bus route • Brooklyn Paper

It pays to screech! MTA restores Courier Life columnist’s favorite bus route

Tastes like victory: Bringing B64 bus service back to Harway Avenue gave the Big Screecher a big appetite — luckily, his pal Vinny Balbo was ready with a specially-made cake.
Community Newspaper Group Will Bredderman

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority heeded the demands of Courier Life columnist Carmine Santa Maria on Thursday, announcing that it was going to bring the Big Screecher’s beloved B64 bus back to Harway Avenue.

Santa Maria celebrated the sweet victory with a cake from the Bread Plus Bakery at the corner of Bay 50th Street and Harway Avenue — one of many shops he claimed lost business when the MTA shortened the B64’s route back in 2010 — overjoyed that his efforts to get the route restored had paid off.

“It’s gonna be great!” the Big Screecher declared from atop his mighty scooter, Tornado. “It brings travel back to this community.”

Transit officials said the B64 will once again pick up passengers along Harway between 25th and Stillwell avenues in January.

The B64 used to take commuters from Shore Road in Bay Ridge to Harway and Stillwell avenues, but the MTA ended the route at 25th Avenue two years ago, claiming that eliminating a 12-block stretch of the route would help them cut costs.

But the Big Screecher balked at the idea, arguing that the cuts left too many seniors and school children out in the cold.

“The Transit Authority expects the old, the frail, the sickly, the needy, the students, and the handicapped to trek long blocks and back,” our esteemed columnist screeched back in June, claiming that residents had to trek to 25th Avenue or take the elevator-less elevated D train at 86th Street without the B64 rolling down Harway Avenue.

Bringing the B64 back to Harway Avenue is a tiny part of the MTA’s $29 million reinvestment into the city’s bus and train system, which will bring back bus stops across the borough and extend the G train to Church Avenue.

But to Santa Maria, the B64 is the only transit improvement that matters.

“It’s absolutely the most important part,” Carmine said. “This community survives on the B64.”

Workers at Bread Plus Bakery also cheered the bus route’s restoration. The B64 brought business right to the bakery’s front door, which sits in front of one of the route’s old stops, employees said.

“I’m really happy we got the bus back, not just for me, but for all the elderly in the area,” Bread Plus Bakery confectioner Vinny Galbo said.

Carmine had a great big slice of the cake Galbo made, but he didn’t gobble the whole thing up by himself, even though he could have without batting an eye. He happily shared it with his pals at the Bensonhurst West End Community Council, who aided him in his fight by holding rallies, writing letters and poems, and signing petitions.

Anna Maria Messina-Walsh, who also rides a scooter was happy to hear that the B64 will once again bring her to Coney Island.

“I don’t have to worry about falling over in the street,” said Messina-Walsh, explaining that her scooter toppled over as she tooled down Harway Avenue last week.

Mario D’Elia, who read several poems he had written about the B64 at a 2010 MTA hearing, was also overjoyed.

“It’s wonderful. I didn’t know if it would happen,” D’Elia said, recalling a few of his lines of his poem.

“Naysayers gripe ‘It’s a hopeless case,’” he wrote. “I say ‘At least we tried.’ If by chance we win this race, we’ll all get back our ride.”

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