Board member supports full restoration of bus line
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Elected officials, community activists and transit advocates who have been pushing for service to be fully restored on the B37 bus now have a surprising ally in their battle with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority – an MTA board member.
Allen Cappelli, who was appointed by the governor to sits on the 23-member transportation board, spoke at a “Bring Back the B37” rally in Bay Ridge on Friday, telling a crowd of protesters that he supports their effort to get the MTA to have the B37 route go from Bay Ridge to Court Street when the line is restored in June. Under the current MTA plan, the B37, which was eliminated by the agency in 2010 as a cost-cutting measure, will be put back into service in June, but with a shortened route.
The current plan has the route ending at the Barclays Center on Atlantic Avenue. Before it was scrapped four years ago, the B37 ran from Bay Ridge to Court Street, stopping outside the New York State Supreme Court to let people off for jury duty on its way to its last stop. Passengers rode the B37 to travel to and from downtown Brooklyn for jury duty, shopping, doctor’s appointments and other chores.
The planned route is 10 blocks shorter than the old route.
“The MTA has mostly restored it, but they need to finish the job,” Cappelli said.
The importance of Cappelli’s support cannot be underestimated, according to Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island). She called him “our voice on the MTA board.”
The rally, organized by Malliotakis and state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn), took place outside the Hope C. Morrison Adult Day Center at 6745 Third Avenue, a day care center sponsored by the Guild for Exceptional Children, a location that would be along the B37's route. The bus line will operate along Third Avenue for a large portion of its route.
The protesters, carrying signs reading “B37 Needs More Hours and Mileage,” and “Unite With Us to Bring Back B37,” included clients from the guild.
Paul Cassone, executive director of the guild, who also spoke at the rally, said his agency has 500 employees and serves 1,000 clients a day. Having a truncated B37 route “makes it more difficult to get here,” he said. It also makes it harder for the guild in its efforts to increase a client’s “independence level,” Cassone said.
Golden said it should be easy for the MTA to restore the B37 to full strength. “Another 10 blocks is all it has to do,” he said.
Golden said the bus line is also needed to provide service to workers in Industry City in Sunset Park, located west of Third Avenue between 29th and 65th street. “Twenty-thousand people work below Third Avenue,” he said.
Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Sunset Park) agreed with Golden. Ortiz said he recently took a tour of Industry City and was frequently asked about the B37 bus. “This bus has an economic impact,” he said.
In addition to calling for a full route, Golden called on the MTA to put more B37 buses on the road. The current plan calls for four buses an hour during peak hours. “You will have to wait 15 minutes for a bus,” he said.
But the main focus of the rally was to call for a route extension. Having the bus terminating at the Barclays Center “defeats the purpose of restoring the bus,” Malliotakis said.
The B37 bus route cuts through a wide swath of Brooklyn, Malliotakis noted. “This is a bus that really affects the entire borough of Brooklyn,” she said, adding that dozens of elected officials, civic groups and transit advocates have put pressure on the MTA to restore the full B37 route.