By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
“Bring back the B37 bus!”
That’s the rally cry from a bi-partisan group of elected officials organizing a protest in Bay Ridge to fight for a return of the shuttered B37 bus line eliminated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 2010. The rally, set for Sunday, May 19, at 10:30 a.m. on the corner of Third Avenue and Senator Street, is being held to try to convince the MTA to bring back the B37, a bus line that operated along Third Avenue, according to Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island).
Malliotakis is working with state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) and four Democrats, state Sen. Diane Savino (D-Brooklyn-Staten Island) and Assembly members Felix Ortiz (D-Sunset Park-Bay Ridge), Alec Brook-Krasny (D-Bay Ridge-Coney Island) and Joan Millman (D-Brooklyn Heights) to put together the protest rally.
The B37 operated along Third Avenue from Bay Ridge to downtown Brooklyn until the MTA eliminated the bus line in June of 2010. The MTA replaced the B37 with another bus line, the B70, for a portion of its route. But Bay Ridge residents pointed out that the B70 only goes as far north as 69th Street, meaning that riders seeking to travel to Sunset Park or points north have to find alternative transportation. Riders who took the B37 from Bay Ridge to go to jury duty in the State Supreme Court building in downtown Brooklyn, for example, could not use the B70, transportation advocates said.
“The elimination of the B37 hurt families and businesses across Brooklyn and was particularly devastating to riders in Bay Ridge, who relied on the line to get them to work, doctor’s appointments, visits with family and other essential destinations,” Malliotakis said.
“Three years have passed since this bus was taken away and we stand united to show the MTA that our communities will not continue to pay exorbitant fares and tolls for inadequate service,” said Malliotakis, who added that the rally will also highlight the need for better R train service.
“A bus line can literally be a life line for a community and that is what the B37 was and will be again for Bay Ridge," Savino said. "Businesses, residents and especially seniors from Bay Ridge Towers to the Bay Ridge Senior Center to Fort Hamilton and Shore Road need their bus back on Third Avenue. We stand united today to demand our bus back!" she said.
Senior citizen groups, like the AARP Bay Ridge Chapter and the Bay Ridge Council on the Aging, are taking part in the rally. Representatives of the Transport Workers Union, the union representing transit employees, also support bringing back the B37, Malliotkais said. The rally also has the support of the Restore the 37 Coalition, a group of transit advocates fighting to restore the bus service.
The rally will be the second major effort mounted by elected officials to try to convince the MTA of the error of its ways regarding the B37. Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) recently organized an online petition drive to bring back the B37 bus.
"The decision to terminate the B37 bus route on Brooklyn's Third Avenue was wrong then, and it still is,” Golden said. “The elimination of this bus has impacted many commuters and businesses, and has created an unnecessary hardship for many people who can not utilize our trains because there are no elevators at our stations,” he said.
Reviving the bus line would have a positive impact on the borough’s economy, according to Ortiz. "Public transportation is a reliable and efficient way to travel to and from work for many individuals across Brooklyn. These are the same people who are working hard day in and day out to make a decent living and, in the process, help continue the revival of our economy,” he said.
MTA spokeswoman Deirdre Parker recently told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that the agency eliminated the B37 because the bus line had few riders. “The B37 was discontinued in 2010 due to low average ridership and its proximity to the R train,” she said.