One of the first complaints I heard at State Sen. Marty Golden’s (R–Bay Ridge) town hall meeting at St. Finbar’s was from a very upset senior, a lady devastated and now totally lost without transportation since the loss of the B64 bus that she depended upon.
Naturally, there were lots of complaints about the MTA regarding safety and lack of service. The MTA was too chicken to face the masses it just cut transit service from. Finally, when I saw there were no other speakers, I scooted to Jerry Kassar, who was doing a terrific job at the mike, handling the angry crowd. He recognized me as a civic activist for over 40 years fighting for the Bensonhurst community, and I responded, “Hey I’m not that old … I’ve only been doing this for 32 years.”
I brought up a couple of issues; one was the Department of Transportation’s ill-conceived plan of calming traffic by reducing lanes and creating tremendous traffic hazards. I commended the Fire Department chief who wrote a letter stating that the fire trucks can not maneuver into corners with the new safety islands, permitting restricted turns and double parked vehicles making deliveries.
Then I attacked the MTA, stating thatit should be abolished!
It’s an inefficient authority that no longer has the smarts to run the transit system nor accepts responsibility for its destruction. Take, for stance, the city spending millions and millions of dollars to revitalize Coney Island and then the MTA cutting service to it. I spoke of the new reports of falling nuts and bolts from a nearby elevated train, warning everyone that the danger exists and explaining how poor maintenance was the reason for the terrible screeching noise trains make. I publicly offered to join Golden’s lawsuit against the B64 service cuts.
It is time for the MTA to be accountable, not just to the elected officials, but to the people it represents, who the system is supposed to transport. The MTA knows that the service lines it severed, cut or abolished serviced the non-English speaking riders; in the B64’s case, the Harway Avenue line south of 25th Avenue runs through a new community of Asian homeowners, who bought their homes here because of easy accessibility to Chinatown via the D line. And the same goes for the other new Chinese communities in Brooklyn such as Eighth Avenue, 18th Avenue and Avenue U, where subway service to Chinatown is paramount!
I had scoffed at Mayor Bloomberg when he participated in the grand opening of Luna Park and when he asked for questions; I asked, “Mayor Bloomberg, I’m very happy to hear that the city has spent millions to revitalize the Coney Island area to restore it to its former glory as the Playground of the World. I’m thrilled that the Italian owners spent $6 million rebuilding Luna Park, which will bring 200 jobs to the area. Having spent all that effort and money to bring people back to Coney Island, why is the MTA cutting service to it?” Mayor Bloomberg answered, “I don’t blame the MTA, I blame the Assembly and Senate for cutting funds to it,” adding that “there’s a good man heading the agency.”
I scoffed at that statement, giving the mayor a thumbs down on importing MTA Chairman Jay Walder, from London at a almost half a million dollar salary, and all he does is act like a butcher slicing and cutting vital transit service.
The Screecher was raised and schooled in Little Italy. Coney Island was our Mecca for vacations in the summer. The beach and the bathhouses were our only recourse from the sweltering heat. After work, day after day, I would take the West End line to Coney Island to swim and meet my friends, traveling two hours to do it. I was a lifeguard at Ravenhall Pool for several years also, so I am very protective of Coney Island and thrilled to hear of its revitalization.
Because of this affront to the Coney Island revitalizations and the merciless MTA cuts, such as the B64 — that won’t go into Coney Island anymore — I think our billionaire mayor is dead wrong on his admiration for the MTA chairman.
Screech at you next week!