But Bay Ridge pols still want route extended past Barclays Center
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The B37 bus is coming back!
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) confirmed to the Brooklyn Eagle on Tuesday that the shuttered bus line, which was eliminated in a cost-cutting measure in 2010, will be back in service starting June 29.
The B37 will run from Shore Road in Bay Ridge to the Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn, making stops in several neighborhoods along the way, including Bay Ridge and Sunset Park. The bus runs along Third Avenue for a large portion of its route.
The MTA voted to restore the B37 back in July of 2013 after prodding from Brooklyn’s elected officials and transportation advocacy groups, but the agency didn’t announce an exact date the bus service would resume until now.
From Bay Ridge to Brooklyn Heights, lawmakers and advocates have spent the past four years organizing petition drives, holding protest demonstrations, and testifying at MTA hearings – all in an effort to convince the agency to bring back the B37.
Several groups even banded together to form one large organization called Restore the B37 Bus Coalition. The coalition organized an online petition calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo and the MTA to put the B37 back on the streets of Brooklyn.
The MTA’s move is righting a wrong, said state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southwest Brooklyn), a member of the MTA’s Capital Review Board. “There is no doubt in my mind that this route should have never been eliminated to begin with, as it served as a vital connection within a number of Brooklyn neighborhoods,” he said.
“So many people relied on the Third Avenue bus for work, shopping and school travel. For our seniors and disabled, this too is great news, for the train stations in our community are not handicapped accessible,” Golden added.
Back in 2010, the MTA did try to appease Bay Ridge bus riders by rerouting the B70 to run along a small portion of Third Avenue. Riders complained, however, because the B70 only goes as far north on Third Avenue as Bay Ridge Avenue and then turns to travel toward Eighth Avenue. Passengers seeking to travel further north on Third Avenue were left stranded, transit advocates said.
Golden and other Bay Ridge elected officials cheered the return of the B37 bus, but indicated that they have not given up the fight to get the B37’s downtown Brooklyn route extended by 10 blocks, so that the bus would terminate at Borough Hall instead of the Barclays Center.
"This is a major win for Brooklyn – for seniors, students, the disabled and businesses along the corridor – from Bay Ridge to Prospect Heights. For people who need to get to work, doctor's appointments, schools and houses of worship, this route is essential. And I hope once the MTA sees just how crucial this route is, they’ll agree to extend it all the way to Court Street the way it should be,” Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) said.
Calling the bus restoration “a tremendous victory for residents, businesses and workers who rely on the MTA for transportation along Third Avenue every day,” Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) said extending the route to Borough Hall will depend on the number of riders who use the newly revived B37.
“While we eventually want the route to extend from Fort Hamilton to Borough Hall, we are pleased to see the bus will take residents to and from the Barclays Center. Now it is up to the riders to use the service and show its need to be further extended,” Malliotakis said.
The MTA has no plans to have the B37 bus route go past the Barclays Center, according to a statement the agency issued.
“Prior to the route’s elimination in 2010, it was losing ridership due to reliability issues. The bus was often stuck on congested streets in Downtown Brooklyn where several other bus routes run. Terminating the B37 at Barclays Center will improve the route’s reliability and provide more seamless service for customers. Customers can use the B103 for service to downtown Brooklyn,” the statement read.