Golden, Malliotakis urge MTA to vote yes
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Don’t pop the champagne corks just yet. The restoration of the B37 bus line is not a done deal, according to two Republican lawmakers, who warned riders not to celebrate too early.
State Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) said it’s not a sure bet that the http://new.mta.info/ Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will vote to bring back the B37 line when it holds its board meeting on July 24. “There are no assurances,” Golden said, as he stood with Malliotakis and Bay Ridge Community Council President Renee Dorsa in a bus shelter on Third Avenue and 75th Street Thursday morning to call on the MTA to approve the proposal to restore the B37.
“There is still one week left in this fight,” Malliotakis said at the press conference. Malliotakis, who noted that the MTA will be considering the possible restoration of several bus limes around the city, not just the B37, said that she, Golden, and other elected officials in Brooklyn are eager “to make sure the B37 remains part of the proposal” when the MTA board meets next Wednesday.
The MTA eliminated the B37 and other bus lines in 2010 when the agency was faced with a budget crisis. The B37 ran from Bay Ridge to downtown Brooklyn along Third Avenue. The MTA rerouted the B70 to Third Avenue for a portion of its route. But transit advocates said the B70 turns from Third Avenue onto 69th Street and doesn’t go any further north, leaving residents of Sunset Park and other neighborhoods north of Bay Ridge without a Third Avenue bus.
Golden, Malliotakis, and Dorsa made a pitch for the B37. “This is a bus line that goes from Fort Hamilton all the way to http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcas/html/about/brook_boroughhall.shtml Borough Hall. Our seniors cannot access the R train,” Malliotakis said. The R train stations do not have elevators for the elderly and handicapped and many seniors find navigating the stairs difficult.
As a result of the lack of transportation options, seniors “have to spend extra money they don’t have to pay for car services,” she said. Malliotakis added that her mother is one of those seniors. “She has a doctor whose office is near Borough Hall. It’s hard for her to get down there. She is always asking me about getting the B37 back,” Malliotakis told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
“The B37 is vital for seniors, people with disabilities and for our youth,” Dorsa said.
Golden said a bus is needed to run the full length of Third Avenue so that people can get to Lutheran Medical Center, go shopping in downtown Brooklyn, and for “people that work in the court system.” The B37 stopped outside the Adams Street entrance of the http://www.nycourts.gov/courts/2jd/ New York State Supreme Court in downtown Brooklyn. Also, people who work in the Bush Terminal and other nearby businesses need the bus, he said. “Over 20,000 people are employed below Third Avenue,” he said.
Golden expressed concern about the impact the closure of the Montague Street Tunnel will have on transportation. The tunnel, which accommodates the R train, will be closed for 14 months starting in early August so that the MTA can repair damage caused by Superstorm Sandy. Golden questioned whether the MTA can meet its 14 month timetable. “They haven’t opened up those walls. They haven’t seen what’s behind there,” he said, adding that the repairs could be more complicated than first believed.
Golden said he has been holding ongoing talks with MTA President Thomas Prendergast about adding transportation services to make up for the lack of a direct link for R train riders. Prendergast has agreed increase service on the express buses by 25 percent, Golden said.
It’s important to keep up the pressure on the MTA, Malliotakis said. “The squeaky wheel gets the oil,” she said.
Golden, Malliotakis and other advocates of the B37 have at least one sympathetic ear on the MTA board. Allen Cappelli, the Staten Island member of the board, said in a statement that the B37 is “on the verge” of being restored. “I am hopeful that the MTA board will approve this plan unanimously at the next full board meeting,” he stated.