The Department of Transportation must put the brakes on plans to install bus-only lanes on Kings Highway between McDonald and Ocean avenue that will hurt the economy and make an untenable parking situation even worse, local pols said this week.
“Once again, here is government telling people what’s good for them, as if they know better,” said Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D–Midwood). “Why is it necessary to hurt them — to hurt residents and businesses?”
The plan, pitched by the city to Community Board 15’s transportation committee earlier this month, turns the B82 Limited, which runs from Spring Creek to Coney Island, into the borough’s newest “Select Bus Service,” which promises faster travel time on dedicated lanes for parts of the route — at the expense of the number of stops and parking spaces. To speed up loading and unloading, fares are purchased before getting on the bus, and riders can load through both the front and back doors.
The city and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority want to make the changes to the B82 lines to improve travel times for its 28,000 daily riders who trudge along at an extremely slow pace for a good portion of the route.
“Along Kings Highway, buses now average 5 mph or slower from McDonald Avenue to Ocean Avenue (among the slowest speeds in the entire city), making the conversion of the B82 to Select Bus Service a priority,” wrote a Department of Transportation spokeswoman in a statement. “SBS will bring shorter travel times and more reliable service along one of Brooklyn’s busiest bus routes.”
The new bus-only lanes will be located along Kings Highway at:
• E. Fourth Street to McDonald Avenue
• Coney Island Avenue to Ocean Parkway
• E. 18th to E. 16th streets
• E. 13th to E.15th streets
• E. 18th Street to Ocean Avenue
The lanes will be in effect from 7 to 10 am and 4 to 7 pm Monday through Friday.
But pols say the plan needs to be rethought before getting put into place, because too many parking spaces will be lost to buses, and mom-and-pops will pay the price.
“This plan will remove over 100 parking spots during peak hours – and local stores will be the ones that suffer, as customers choose to shop elsewhere,” said Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay).
The city countered that there only one lane of parking will be closed to buses at a time, and is proposing adding more parking on nearby streets, according to the presentation. And the department spokeswoman said improved bus service increases retail in a given nabe.
The department is continuing to present the final plan at community meetings throughout the winter.
And not every resident thinks the new service is a bad idea. One Midwood man who regularly takes the B82 bus said the slow bus is in desperate need of improvements.
“The B82 right now is in a terrible state. It’s overcrowded,” said Martin Samoylov. “On parts of Kings Highway it only goes five miles per hour.”
Samoylov thinks many Brooklynites walk or take public transit — and don’t drive — to get to the stores on Kings Highway, and said the new plan will benefit and not have a big effect on parking nor the economy.
“It will definitely improve the lives of thousands of people who take that bus,” he said. “Parking will still be there.”