Straphangers rally to demand transit investment

Business advocates stand up to MTA over Bed-Stuy transit cuts
Photo by Kevin Duggan

Transit advocates rallied to demand Governor Cuomo pump money into the city’s bus system amid looming service cuts at a Downtown Brooklyn protest Thursday.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Pat Foye warned at an emergency board meeting last month that he and his team were looking at ways to slash service to plug a $1 billion budget deficit by 2023.

“We’re reviewing the possibility of new subway and bus service adjustments in the fall,” Foye told the New York Post. “That is painful for all of us, but that is the reality.”

Foye’s gloomy announcement came after the agency cut busses and increased wait times along the B38, B54, and B15 — among other buses across the Five Boroughs — while adding longer articulated buses to the first line, which caused uproar among local businesses, residents, and pols, who gathered at the B38’s Cadman Plaza West stop to demand more resources for public transit.

“We need to be talking about how to add more service how to make services more reliable,” said Stephanie Burgos-Veras, a member of Riders Alliance. “We need the Governor to find a revenue source to make sure that they’re filling the gap in the operating budget.”

The cuts shaved $7 million off the agency’s operating budget and were inspired by the routes’ relatively low ridership figures, according to transit honchos, who argued that adding the longer vehicles along the B38 would decrease bunching.

But the agency’s scheme to enhance service by eliminating buses hasn’t worked out as planned, according to activists, who say bunching issues still persist almost three weeks after the changes rolled out.

“I’ve waited for more than 40 minutes for the buses to arrive, just to have three of them come together at the same bus stop,” said protester Pedro Valdez-Rivera, who regularly rides the B38 and sometimes uses the B54, and who is also a member of Riders Alliance.

Officials plan to launch a complete and year-long overhaul of the borough’s bus system this fall.

The agency also plans to invest in the bus network as part of its gigantic $51.1 billion 2020-2024 capital plan, $3.5 billion of which will go to the city’s bus system.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.