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Lander report: Call it the B61 bomber • Brooklyn Paper

Lander report: Call it the B61 bomber

A new report shows that the B61 bus is lousy. But as you can see from this typical scene, most riders know that.
Photo by Bess Adler

The main bus out of transportation-starved Red Hook arrives too late or doesn’t stop at all, according to a scathing new report.

Fewer than half of the buses on the B61 line — which runs from Red Hook to Downtown via Park Slope — arrived on time during “peak hours” and the rest showed up at least three minutes early or late, according to an exhaustive survey put together by Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) and dozens of volunteers.

Many of the buses were too crowded, arrived erratically, or were bunched up with other buses.

Only 43 percent arrived on time during rush hour — nearly two times worse than the B44, which the Straphangers Campaign named the least reliable “key route.”

In an extreme example, only 42 percent of scheduled B61 buses showed up at the Columbia Street-Union Street bus stop during rush hour. Others exceed city capacity limits of 54 persons per bus and arrived 20 minutes late, according to the study.

The findings are nothing new to residents from Red Hook and the Columbia Waterfront District, but are particularly infuriating because there are so few other transportation options — especially after the MTA cut the B71 bus, one of Red Hook’s only other options.

It also doesn’t help that the city shuttered the Smith-Ninth Street subway station for renovations on the Carroll Gardens-Red Hook border, further isolating the neighborhood.

“Transportation has gone from bad to worse,” said Mark Fass, who says that he sometimes waits 40 minutes in the cold when taking his young daughter to school in Brooklyn Heights in the morning. “It’s untenable.”

That’s why Lander is demanding that the MTA: Add more B61 buses from 7-9 am and 5-7 pm, and extend the nearby B57 line, which currently runs from Vinegar Hill to Carroll Gardens, into Red Hook. Lander also wants the agency to provide a satellite-guided tracking system so riders know when the buses will actually arrive, the same system that B63 riders currently enjoy.

“It’s no secret the B61 is not adequately serving riders,” said Lander, who rallied locals on Monday. “Service is poor.”

He ought to know. Lander’s volunteers collected data from 700 buses during 64 shifts this summer.

A spokeswoman for the MTA noted, “We are reviewing the report and will work with [elected officials] to address the concerns.”

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.

Councilman Brad Lander — commissioned the study.

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