Jumping on the bus! Pols pledge their support for B71 revival

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

All aboard!

A campaign to revive a defunct bus service between the Columbia Street Waterfront District and Crown Heights is motoring ahead now that local pols, civic leaders, and hundreds of straphangers have jumped on the bandwagon to demand Metropolitan Transit Service restore a route they say is sorely missed.

“The elimination of this line shows that the MTA is out of touch with the transit needs of this community, and I refuse to stand idly by as my constituents struggle to go about their day-to-day activities,” said Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon (D–Cobble Hill) at a press conference last Tuesday calling for the return of the B71 bus that ran along Union Street and Eastern Parkway until 2010.

Joining Simon was Borough President Adams, state senators Velmanette Montgomery (D–Crown Heights), Daniel Squadron (D–Carroll Gardens), and Jesse Hamilton (D–Park Slope), and Councilman Brad Lander (D–Gowanus) — who launched an online petition demanding the transit authority bring the bus back on Oct. 10, and has already garnered more than 1,200 signatures.

The elected officials all announced their commitment to restoring the bus service after neighborhood group the Park Slope Civic Council launched a campaign to get the bus rolling again earlier this month.

The group’s proposal would extend the defunct bus line to the bottom of Brooklyn Bridge Park at one end and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum at the other, expand its hours to 11:30 pm at night, and redraw the route to avoid traffic jams that plagues the old service.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority killed the service five years ago amidst budget cuts, but now that Mayor DeBlasio and Gov. Cuomo have finally worked out a deal to fund $26 billion of the transit body’s capital budget, the B71 campaign is the perfect opportunity to make sure Brooklyn gets its fair share of the dough, said Adams.

“The recent agreement between the City and State on funding for the MTA’s capital budget makes this the right time to urge for the restoration of the B71,” said the Beep. “With our borough sharing the cost for this unprecedented contribution to our mass transit system, we must ensure that our ridership benefits equitably from this investment.”

The Slope civic association is now calling on Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo (D–Prospect Heights) and Assemblyman Walter Mosely (D–Prospect Heights) to add their voices to the chorus, said Michael Cairl, the groups’s point man for the issue.

And a bit further down the line, Cairl is also hoping Community Board 6 — which serves Cobble Hill, Gowanus, and Park Slope — and Community Board 8 — which encompasses Prospect Heights and Crown Heights — will give their endorsements and host meetings with the transit body.

At least one Community Board 8 member doesn’t think that will be a problem.

“Personally, I have no doubt that both our committee and board will support the concept of a revitalized B71 without reservation,” said Rob Witherwax, vice-chair of Community Board 8’s transportation committee.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixs[email protected]glocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Back the bus up: Park Slope Civic Council trustee Michael Cairl is leading the charge to bring back the B71 bus route, which now has the support of several local electeds.
Photo by Jason Speakman