Seniors don’t use the subway!
That was the message of more than 60 Bay Ridge residents who protested on Saturday the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plan to eliminate the B37 bus, which links the neighborhood to Downtown Brooklyn.
The MTA says that the bus line, which runs along the Third Avenue shopping and dining corridor on its way Downtown, is lightly used and duplicates service provided along Fourth Avenue by the R train.
But the neighborhood’s senior citizens say they prefer the bus to the subway because many elderly can’t get up and down the stairs.
“The preponderance of seniors in the area can’t take the subway,” said senior advocate Jane Kelly, “so it’s really not an alternative.”
Not one subway station in Bay Ridge is handicapped accessible, Kelly pointed out, and even when the 86th Street station is finally redone, it will not have an elevator.
Peter Killen, the executive director of the Bay Ridge Consumer Federation, said that if the MTA can’t afford to run the bus day and night, it should at least provide service in the mornings and late afternoons, when old-timers who are unable to use the subway tend to travel Downtown.
“Just give us some bus service,” he demanded.
The rally was organized by Assemblywoman Janele Hyer-Spencer, who said the turnout “showed that we will not let the MTA take away this lifeline to our community without a fight.”
For now, the MTA isn’t budging, saying that the B37 is the 158th busiest bus line in a system that only has 194 routes. The average weekday ridership is just 3,197 people, statistics show.
Eliminating the B37, part of a restructuring of other lines in the neighborhood, would save $2.8 million per year, the agency said.
And the Third Avenue portion of the B37 would be replaced by a rerouted B70, the bus line that runs up and down Eighth Avenue between the Veterans Administration hospital and the 36th Street subway junction in Sunset Park.