Malliotakis says decision expected in January
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Chances are looking good that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will adhere to the wishes of riders and restore the B37 to its full route – from Bay Ridge to Court Street – according to Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, who met with transit officials on Tuesday.
“The proposal to restore the B37 to a full route is strongly being considered,” Malliotakis told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on Wednesday, the day after she met with MTA officials.
“This is a good development,” Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) said.
Earlier this year, the MTA announced that it would restore service on the B37 line starting in the summer of 2014. The bus line had been eliminated by the MTA in 2010 as a cost cutting measure.
The B37 operated between Bay Ridge and downtown Brooklyn, stopping at the New York Supreme Court Building along its route. The bus operated on Third Avenue for a large portion of its route.
But when it announced it was restoring the bus line, the MTA also announced that the route was bring truncated. Instead of running all the way to the court house, the last stop on the B37 will be at the Barclays Center on Atlantic Avenue.
That leaves riders seeking to travel to the courts or to Brooklyn Heights stranded, transit advocates said.
“It would be detrimental to the community to restore the bus only partially. It almost defeats the purpose,” Malliotakis said. “And it’s a non-starter for elected officials,” she added.
The MTA held a public hearing at its midtown headquarters last week to obtain public feedback on its B37 plan.
Malliotakis and state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) submitted a joint statement to the MTA. “The restoration of the B37 bus line was a tremendous victory for the riders, families and businesses of Brooklyn who relied on this service for so long prior to its elimination. This decision was welcomed by so many in the community, including our students, senior citizens, health care professionals, and those who will again be able to utilize this bus to get to and from work,” the two lawmakers said.
“However, the proposal to cease service at the Barclays Center at Atlantic Avenue is an ill-advised plan that will fail to meet the needs of Brooklyn’s commuters. In the past, the B37 would travel 10 blocks further to Court Street at Livingston Street, connecting riders with destinations like the court system, medical appointments and Borough Hall and its surrounding neighborhood. As the State legislative representatives of Bay Ridge, we formally request that the B37 be restored in full, running past the Barclays Center and to its former final stop at Court Street. Anything less would be a failure for your customers,” Malliotakis and Golden stated.
Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) called on the MTA to bring the B37 earlier in 2014, rather than wait for the summer.
“For years, my district has struggled to cope with the loss of the B37. Seniors, residents with disabilities and young people in my district have found it very challenging to travel to downtown Brooklyn and in between. Restoring the B37 earlier in 2014 would alleviate these issues, and offer our most vulnerable riders the comfort of a warm seat on a bus during the winter months,” Gentile stated in his testimony to the MTA.
Gentile expressed concern that under the current plan, the B37 will run only from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. He called on the MTA to have the bus operate 24 hours a day.
“Restoring the route to Court Street would give passengers a one-seat ride to government agencies, such as Borough Hall and lastly, twenty-four hour service would provide safe and reliable service for workers commuting to businesses that open early in the morning or close late at night,” Gentile testified.
Leaders of the ad-hoc group The Restore The B37 Bus Coalition wrote a letter to the MTA expressing gratitude for the decision to bring back the bus, along with a push for full service.
“For over three years, our communities have struggled to cope with the loss of the B37. Our seniors, residents with disabilities, and young people have found it particularly challenging to travel to city agencies and support services in Downtown Brooklyn, to Lutheran Family Health Center in Sunset Park, to the new Barclays Center, and to shopping centers and medical appointments in Bay Ridge,” the coalition’s leaders wrote.
The coalition is composed of a bipartisan group of Brooklyn elected officials, civic organizations like United Puerto Rican Organizations of Sunset Park, and institutions such as Lutheran Medical Center.