Route goes from Bay Ridge to Barclays Center
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
After four years of waiting, Brooklyn bus riders finally have their B37 back!
The bus began rolling again on Sunday, four years after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) eliminated the bus line as a cost-cutting measure. The MTA announced earlier this year that service would be restored starting June 29.
Since 2010, when the MTA scrapped the B37, transportation advocates, elected officials, members of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) representing bus drivers and civic and business groups from Bay Ridge to Prospect Heights had been fighting to convince the agency to reinstate the service.
The Restore the B37 Bus Coalition, a group composed of organizations and elected officials organized a petition drive. Numerous protest rallies were held in Bay Ridge, Sunset Park and other communities to get across the point that Brooklyn needed the B37. The elimination of the bus line meant that riders seeking to travel from Bay Ridge to downtown Brooklyn had to do it in a piecemeal fashion, transferring between different bus and subway lines.
The new version of the B37 runs from Shore Road in Bay Ridge to the Barclays Center on Atlantic Avenue, operating along Third Avenue for a large portion of its route. The bus does not go all the way to Court Street, as it did during its pre-2010 incarnation.
Still, riders said they’re glad to have their favorite bus back. So glad, in fact, that several people gathered on Third Avenue and 68th Street on Tuesday morning for a “Welcome Back B37” rally.
The participants included executives, staff members and clients of the Guild for Exceptional Children (GEC), a non-profit agency that services the developmentally disabled. The guild’s headquarters is located at 260 68th St., down the block from a B37 bus stop.
“Restoration of the B-37 will increase available travel services for individuals with disabilities served in Brooklyn and be an economic boon for the local community by allowing easier access to shopping, medical services, and employment,” a statement from GEC read.
The long-awaited return of the B37 would help the environment, according to the guild. “Facilitating mass transit access will eliminate some of the motor vehicle traffic and congestion in the area, particularly the Belt Parkway and Gowanus Expressway. It will move more people economically and efficiently and will help the planet by reducing the fumes from car exhausts,” the guild’s statement read.
United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset Park (UPROSE), a group that was founded to raise concerns over environmental issues, was at the forefront of the B37 bus restoration movement. UPROSE is a founder of the Restore the B37 Bus Coalition.
On the group’s twitter page, UPROSE leaders wrote: “This community victory shows the power of unity & community!”
Murad Awawdeh, environmental justice organizer for UPROSE, issued a statement back in April when it was learned that the MTA was bringing the bus service back.
"UPROSE is thankful to TWU and our partners for helping us build the Restore the B37 Bus Coalition. UPROSE would like to thank Governor Cuomo and the MTA for listening to our community’s needs and reinstating the B37 Bus. This summer our elders, students, disabled and waterfront workers will have a means to travel to work, medical appointments, schools, houses of worship and have access to downtown Brooklyn,” the statement read.
Elected officials al expressed delight and relief that the bus is rolling again after a four-year hiatus.
“I am delighted to say the beloved B37 is finally back, right on time for summer! I thank the MTA for doing the right thing and commend all my partners in the massive ‘Restore the B37 Bus Coalition’ for never giving up on this fight and working hard behind the scenes to make this a reality,” Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Rige-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) said.
Gentile also called the bus service “a major win for seniors, students, the disabled and small businesses along the corridor – from Bay Ridge to Prospect Heights.”
Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park-Red Hook) said the return of the bus will help a variety of people.
“I am proud to stand with Restore the B37 Coalition in celebrating the restoration of this bus line which will once again provide easily accessible mass-transit to our seniors, disabled residents, students, businesses and families along Third Avenue. This is a hard-fought community-led victory made possible by the resilient advocacy of Sunset Park and the southwest Brooklyn community,” he wrote to the Brooklyn Eagle in an email.
Menchaca hinted that residents of waterfront communities like Sunset Park still have transportation needs that are not being met. “I will continue to partner with UPROSE, Lutheran Family Health Center, community members, and this wide-ranging coalition to ensure our waterfront communities get their transportation needs met and to advocate for their unique environmental, economic, and social needs as well,” he said.
Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island), who said back in 2010 that the elimination of the B37 bus was one of the reasons she decided to run for public office, said she is pleased the fight has been won. “After four years and passionate advocacy from all corners of the community, I’m pleased to join my colleagues to celebrate the B37’s return to service. We once again proved that by working together and advocating for Bay Ridge's needs, we can achieve real results,” she told the Brooklyn Eagle.
“Today we celebrate a tremendous community transportation victory for Brooklyn,” said state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southwest Brooklyn). “The return of the B37 bus on Third Avenue is welcomed, more than three years since its termination, for so many reasons and by so many residents and organizations. From the day the B37 bus was taken out of service, we united and continued to send a message to the Metropolitan Transit Authority that we would not rest until the bus was back in service.”
While the celebrating is going on, however, lawmakers said they’re still hoping to convince the MTA to extend the northern portion of the bus route from the Barclays Center to Borough Hall to give riders a chance to travel to the courts.
“Now we continue to push the MTA to have the bus run past the Barclays Center and its full former route all the way to Brooklyn Borough Hall. Those extra stops will help the B37 serve even further as a lifeline," Golden said.
“My hope is that once the MTA sees how crucial this route is, they’ll agree to restore the line all the way to Court Street the way it used to be and the way it was meant to be,” Gentile said.