By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Take heart, all of you exasperated B1 bus riders! Your long, long wait for a bus to arrive may finally end.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is rolling out more B1 buses to ease congestion and long wait times.
The bus line, which snakes through a large section of southwest Brooklyn, from 86th Street and Fourth Avenue in Bay Ridge to Kingsborough Community College on Oriental Boulevard in Manhattan Beach, has been the source of aggravation for thousands of riders who sometimes have to cool their heels for 30 minutes or more.
For much of its route, the B1 travels along 86th Street.
Starting on Aug. 31, the B1 will run on a “School-Open” schedule only, according to Assemblymember William Colton, who requested that the MTA take action to fix things. Traditionally, during the times when public schools are closed, the MTA puts fewer B1s on the street, reasoning that with school out, there are fewer passengers. The move to a “School-Open” schedule will mean that additional buses will be on the line, Colton said.
Colton (D-Gravesend-parts of Bensonhurst) said the MTA’s move will help improve service by decreasing the delays and reducing overcrowding. Riders who wait a long time for the B1 often find that the bus is packed when it finally arrives.
Numerous constituents have complained of being late for work or school because of the tardy B1, Colton said. He sent a letter to the MTA in June, asking officials to take action to address the problems plaguing the bus line, especially the chronic bus lateness, passenger overcrowding and irregular service.
“This increase in service to the B1 bus line will greatly enhance the quality of life for local residents by reducing wait and travel times, creating easier, faster commutes for straphangers,” Colton said. “The B1 services many important areas of our community, including the busy, commercial shopping area of 86th Street. The additional service on the B1 bus line is a win-win situation for the entire community.”
MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz told the Brooklyn Eagle that the decision to adjust service on the B1 came after a check of traffic conditions along the bus route conducted in the spring. But Ortiz also said that the adjustment of the B1 schedule to a "School Open" timeline is something the agency does routinely every year.
Meanwhile, Colton and another lawmaker, Councilmember Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-Bensonhurst), said they are pushing for other transit improvements.
“At a time when our neighborhoods are growing and the need for reliable public transportation is more apparent than ever, I will continue to work with Assemblyman Colton, our community and the MTA to increase service elsewhere as needed,” Treyger said.
In July, Colton sent a letter to the MTA asking the agency to purchase new buses for the Ulmer Park Bus Depot. The depot, at 2249 Harway Ave., services many bus lines in southwest Brooklyn. A fleet of newer buses would mean fewer mechanical malfunctions and breakdowns, which cause delays, overcrowding, and disruptions in service for passengers, Colton said.
Riders have complained that often the hydraulic lifts of these older buses don’t operate properly. A mechanical malfunction can be a serious problem for riders, particularly the elderly, young children and those carrying heavy packages, making it ever more difficult to board and exit the older buses.
Colton also sent a letter to the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) asking for the installation of pedestrian islands along the B1 bus line; specifically at the bus stops at 86th Street and 25th Avenue, 86th Street and 24th Avenue, 86th Street and 23rd Avenue and 86th Street and 21st Avenue. The bus stops at 86th Street and Bay Parkway and 86th Street and 20th Avenue already have pedestrian islands
Pedestrian islands will help riders board and exit the buses more easily and quickly, since they lift passengers six inches off the ground and higher to the door of the bus, Colton said.
In addition, the pedestrian islands will create a safe space for riders to wait for the bus, so they don’t have to wait in the middle of the street near moving vehicles, he said. The bus stops on the 86th Street portion of the B1 route are located several feet away from the curb, next to the stanchions of the D elevated train line.