By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eaglr
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board voted Wednesday to restore service on the B37 bus line, according to Brooklyn elected officials, who had pushed for the restoration.
“I couldn’t be happier for all involved in the fight to secure improved transit service in our community,” Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) said.
The MTA vote was unanimous, Malliotakis told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
“After countless rallies, meetings, letter-writing campaigns and advocacy efforts, Brooklyn riders have won. With the B37’s return, the increase in X27 service and the addition of midday and evening service on the S93 from Bay to Ridge to The College of Staten Island, our families, seniors and businesses have shown that by working together, we can effect positive change,” the assemblywoman said.
The B37, which ran from Bay Ridge to downtown Brooklyn, offering residents of southern Brooklyn a vital link to downtown shopping and the courts, was one of the bus lines eliminated by the MTA in 2010 as a cost-cutting measure. Elected officials, transit advocacy groups, and environmental organizations have spent the past three years putting pressure on the MTA to restore the service.
In another development, Bay Ridge elected officials and transportation advocacy organizations like the Riders Alliance reported victories in their efforts to convince MTA to beef up other transit services in anticipation of the closure of the Montague Street Tunnel. The tunnel is scheduled to close on Aug. 2 and remain closed for 14 months. The tunnel closure is expected to wreak havoc on R train riders’ commutes into Manhattan.
“For three years, residents of Bay Ridge and across Brooklyn have suffered without the B37 bus, with residents isolated from their jobs and families while businesses were rendered inaccessible to patrons. With the R and G train underwater tunnels being closed for repairs for 14 months, Brooklyn transit riders need alternative options now more than ever,” Malliotakis said.
The closure is taking place so that damage the tunnel sustained during Superstorm Sandy can be repaired, MTA officials said.
Among the service improvements the MTA has agreed to: a 25 percent increase in service on the X27 express bus line between Bay Ridge and midtown Manhattan; additional “gap trains” to augment service on the D, N, 4, and 5 subway lines; and having all of the escalators at the Jay Street/Metrotech R train station going “up” during the morning rush hour so that passengers can transfer quicker to the F line.
“These victories show the enormous value of grassroots organizing, and of bringing transit riders into the process to advocate for themselves,” John Raskin, executive director of the Riders Alliance, wrote in an email to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
And more service improvements might be on the way. Councilman Vincent Gentile and other officials said that they are continuing their efforts to get a ferry service established between Sunset Park and Wall Street as a transportation alternative for R train riders.