By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Riders Alliance, the grassroots organization that advocates for better transit services for New Yorkers, has named state Sen. Marty Golden a “Bus Champion” for his efforts to pass legislation to make life easier for commuters.
In a presentation that took place on the sidewalk in front of Golden’s Bay Ridge district office at 7404 Fifth Ave. on Tuesday, Riders Alliance Deputy Director Nick Sifuentes said that the senator consistently stands up for bus riders.
Sifuentes presented Golden with a trophy with a miniature bus on top.
Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn) sponsored legislation that paved the way for the expansion of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) Select Bus Service to more areas of the city, according to Sifuentes, who said that it has speeded up the commute for more than two million New Yorkers.
Select Bus Services offers dedicated bus lanes, allowing buses to avoid mingling with other traffic. The buses also make fewer stops that other bus lines.
Currently, there are eight Select Bus Service routes in New York City. The State Legislature passed a bill this year to bring the service to 10 more routes.
The Riders Alliance also recognized Golden’s efforts to improve bus service in Brooklyn in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
“Buses are a lifeline for New Yorkers who don’t own cars and are far from subways and remain vitally important even for those who do live near other modes of public transportation,” Sifuentes said. “Now, thanks to Sen. Golden’s leadership, buses will be faster and more reliable for the two million New Yorkers who ride the bus every day.”
Thomas Devito, director of organizing for the group Transportation Alternatives, said that “every minute a New Yorker is not stuck in traffic” adds to the quality of life. “It’s vital to repair the transit system,” he said.
Golden, who said he was honored to be named a “Bus Champion,” added that transit service is an important issue in communities like Bay Ridge, which is located in the southwestern portion of Brooklyn, far from Manhattan. “Our biggest issue being furthest from the city is the commute to and from work and from school,” he said.
How well the transit system runs is a factor people take into consideration when deciding where to live, Golden said. “Transportation helps people decide if they are going to choose to live in a community,” he said.
While he was happy to receive the trophy, Golden said he’s not done fighting for better transit services in Southwest Brooklyn. Among his priorities: improving service on the X27 and X28 express bus lines, which operate between Brooklyn and midtown Manhattan.
Another target is the subway system, specifically the R and N trains. “N stands for never and R stands for rarely,” he said, reciting the complaints riders often have about the two lines.
One way to improve service is to install new switches in tunnels so that trains could be better coordinated, Golden said.