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:
The B51, which travels over the Manhattan Bridge from Downtown Brooklyn will go the way of other mass transit dodos come June 27, when the cuts take effect.
Eliminating the B51 is expected to save the agency $800,000, and the line’s 900 weekday customers would be required to take the 4, 5, 6, or R train to complete their journey.
The decision to cut the line will affect riders like senior citizen Victoria Venlow, who said she takes the B51 simply because she must, as subway stations present too great of a challenge.
“I can’t take the steps,” the 72-year-old Brooklyn Heights resident said. “The bus is a savior to me.”
Marvin Wasserman, the executive director of the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled, will no longer see travellers — many of whom he recognizes — waiting for the B51, whose stop is outside his Downtown office.
“Many of our people are unable to use subway service and the only way they have of getting into Manhattan is by public transportation,” he said.
Bus lines rumbling through Red Hook, and throughout brownstone Brooklyn in general, will see a good deal of restructuring — and in one case, outright elimination, saving the agency a total of $3 million.
The segment of the B75 between Downtown Brooklyn and the Smith-Ninth Street F-train station will be replaced with an extension of the B57, a line that connects Queens to Downtown.
And the portion of the B75 that travels from Smith–Ninth to 20th Street and Prospect Park West will be replaced with the B61/B77, a newly combined route that connects Downtown to Red Hook.
The 550 weekday riders of the B75 who travel past the Smith-Ninth street station will be required to transfer to complete their journey, or take the F or G trains.
Jo Anne Simon, a disability rights attorney and political activist, said the agency’s thinking doesn’t take into account those who can’t take the subway — particularly not a station like Smith-Ninth, the tallest in the system, and absent of elevators. “Subways aren’t accessible for lots of people,” she said.
Red Hook resident Andrea McKnight said the elimination the B75 “makes no sense,” and predicted “chaos” on the B77 which is already filled to capacity with workers going to IKEA or other jobs in the neighborhood, during rush hour, and will likely see more commuters come the summer. Even before the changes are implemented, she’s at her wit’s end.
“What happens if people stop using the buses and just strike?” she wondered.
Meanwhile, the B71, a line that travels from Cobble Hill to the borough’s cultural hub along Eastern Parkway, would be eliminated entirely, and 1,080 weekday and 1,210 weekend customers would be required to walk to other nearby bus routes, the plan states.
The B69, which shuttles riders from Windsor Terrace to Downtown, will be rerouted south of Flatbush from Eighth Avenue/Prospect Park West to Seventh Avenue following the path of the B67, to Cortelyou Road.
The frequency of the B67, which connects Kensington to Downtown using McDonald Avenue, and the B69 would be reduced, so that with both routes on Seventh, customers traveling to the Q/B subway station would see the same number of buses they see today.
Weekday hours on the B69 would be reduced and weekend service on the line discontinued, forcing riders to trek an intersecting route to Downtown Brooklyn, and then transfer to a different route.
Prospect Heights and Crown Heights will see the discontinuation of the duplicative segment of the B48 south of Fulton Street, a measure slated to save $900,000. The move will affect 2,550 weekday customers, who will now have to take the B49 or the Franklin Avenue shuttle train, increasing their trip times by five minutes.
Service on the remaining portion of the B48 would be unaffected. The line connects Greenpoint to Prospect Park, rumbling along Franklin or Classon avenues to do so.
The B39, an express bus to Manhattan that traverses the Williamsburg Bridge, will be eliminated, despite protestations from commuters and an online petition that called the line a “lifeline” for the elderly and seniors. Discontinuing the line will save the agency $1.1 million and force riders to use the J, Z, or M subway line.
Also in Williamsburg, B13 service north of Wyckoff/Dekalb avenues will be discontinued — but the cut is not as drastic as was once feared. The agency initially planned to eliminate service between Williamsburg and the Myrtle-Wyckoff train station, but relented after public ire, and agreed to restore a small portion of the route that serves Wyckoff Hospital.
The bus is the only handicapped accessible link to the medical center. Despite serving the hospital, the northern portion of the route was targeted by the agency because it was categorized underutilized and duplicative. The proposed bus cut will save $1 million and divert 900 weekday riders each day to the L train, increasing the travel times by five minutes, the agency said.
The agency will also discontinue weekend service on the B24, affecting Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Sunnyside. Roughly 3,150 customers will be required to walk to the B43, B48, or Q39/Q59, increasing a typical trip by a massive 18 minutes, and saving the cash-strapped agency $500,000.
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.”
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.