Cuts approved last week by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will especially sting Brooklyn — where service will be slower, less frequent, and more crowded.
In total, the agency said that the cuts will save $93 million. MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said the agency determines net savings by tallying costs associated with operating a particular line, such as salary, gas, and maintenance.
Lowlights of the agency’s most austere plan in 30 years include:
• The M train, which previously shuttled riders from Essex Street in Manhattan and Bay Parkway during the rush hour, will be eliminated entirely.
• Express bus lines in Williamsburg, Downtown and Bay Ridge will have their weekend service slashed, or be eliminated entirely.
• A bus line in Bay Ridge will be reorganized.
• Bus lines through Downtown, Red Hook, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and Windsor Terrace will be reorganized, forcing straphangers to add an extra transfer to complete some trips — or hoof it.
• A bus line that connects Kensington to Borough Park will be eliminated entirely.
• A bus line connecting Homecrest and Marine Park to the Kings Plaza shopping mall will no longer operate on weekends.
Taken together, there’s a lot of pain to go around. Here’s how it shakes down in your neighborhood:
Riders in Kensington and Flatbush will feel the pain when the B23, which knifes through the heart of Borough Park along 16th Avenue, to Cortelyou Road, is taken out of commission entirely.
Approximately 1,580 weekday riders and 1,240 weekend customers will be forced to take the B8 or the B16, increasing travel times a staggering 15 minutes.
According to the agency, the average weekday ridership on a city bus line is 12,000 customers.
“We looked at lines at far below average in trying to make an effort to affectas few people as possible,” Ortiz said.
Kensington resident Rabbi Aaron Schenker called the B23 an vital link between contiguous neighborhoods, and points south, like Kings Plaza mall at Flatbush Avenue and Avenue U.
“This is an important route,” he said. “It looks almost superfluous, but it’s not.” Schenker added that “golden agers” on their way to doctor’s appointments and students travelling to school rely on the line.
“The school children have no other way to go — but I just wish they’d be a little quieter when they speak on the bus.”
The cut is expected to yield $1.2 million in savings, the agency said.
The MTA will derail service of the B3 south of Avenue U and 71st Street, citing low ridership in this section. The move will affect 400 weekday travellers and 600 on the weekend. The service cut will save $300,000, and service on the remainder of the route will be unaffected.
The MTA decided to retain B4 service between Sheepshead Bay and the B/Q train station. During this time, service will operate on Avenue Z and would not service Neptune Avenue, retaining service to many of the affected riders while still saving $1.6 million, the agency states. Approximately 1,600 weekday travellers and 2,300 on the weekends soon have to take the B1 or B36 bus, and travel times are expected to increase up to 10 minutes.
Marine Park and Homecrest residents will be in for a weekend surprise when they wait for a B2 bus that will never arrive. The agency plans to eliminate service on the B2, which rumbles from Kings Highway to Kings Plaza, affecting 2,460 customers who will now be required to take the B100 — which does not stop at the mall — adding five minutes travel time. The cut is expected to yield $300,000 in savings, the agency said.
Come June, the 10,000 weekday riders of the M line will be forced to take an extra transfer to the R, 2, 3, 4, 5 trains serving nearby stations, or face a longer walk, as rush hour service to certain parts of the borough will be eliminated.
The 16,000 riders who took the M between the D train and Fourth Avenue station and Downtown Brooklyn stations will face an extra transfer, and the 22,000 riders will soon be forced to wait longer for local trips along the D train/Fourth Avenue line. The M would continue to run from western Queens to Williamsburg.
Changes to the M will mean a savings of $4 million annually, according to the agency.
But straphangers are hardly cheering the penny pinching.
Djeneba Sako said she uses the M train every weekday and expects to be late going to work and picking her children up for school.
“Now if I miss the D train, I can take the M,” she said.
But that option will be gone beginning this summer.
“It’s not a good idea,” she said. Fewer trains will mean more time added to her daily commute — but the cost of gasoline will force her to endure mass transit, she said.
Bensonhurst resident Raisa Rapoport said she normally uses the R train, which shares a track with the M. Waiting times have increased the past few weeks, Rapoport said, and she expects the trains to become much more crowded after the cuts.
But Rapoport said she has few options but to remain loyal to the R train. “We aren’t going to have a lot of choice,” she said.
The rush hour M was eliminated because it was “predominantly empty” while travelling in Brooklyn, Ortiz said. “It was not a vastly utilized service, he said, adding that the D, N and R all service the same stretch of that corridor.
Longtime resident Jean Ryan will miss her X27 express bus. To save $900,000, the agency will eliminate weekend service to Manhattan on the X27 and the X28 from Bensonhurst. Instead of hopping a bus, the agency recommends that riders instead take the R or D trains.
But Ryan, who suffers from neuropathy and is wheelchair bound, can’t.
“They say take the subway in Bay Ridge, but there is no wheelchair accessible subway. They say they are going to put elevators in at 86th Street by 2020. I’ll be 75 then, and I don’t think I’ll start using the subway again, if I’m still alive.”
The B37 bus will now be discontinued and replaced with the B70 — which will not travel to Lutheran Medical Center on Second Avenue and 55th Street in Sunset Park, where longtime Bay Ridge resident Jane Kelly volunteers.
Nor will it rumble Downtown, where she likes to shop.
At 88 years old, Kelly said she can no longer manage subway stairs.
“I went to the [MTA] hearing on the cuts, but the people who were there were not really listening.”
The change is expected to save $2.8 million and service is expected to be maintained on key corridors like Eight Avenue and Fort Hamilton Parkway south of Bay Ridge Avenue.
“These are painful measures, and we understand that,” Ortiz said.
Sunset Park resident Ed Wade, a former manager with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, wasn’t impressed. He said the restructured route will leave locals in a lurch.
“This is worse than the transit strike, because this will go on forever,” Wade added. “When the workers go on strike, they are criminals, when the board shuts down service, they are considered good managers.”