By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The B37 bus has made it to the finals! Restoration of the B37 bus was one of the items which made it to a final list of proposed transit service restorations by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. But bus riders longing for the return of the Third Avenue bus probably won’t be breathing easy until the MTA takes its final vote on July 24.
“I’m happy that it made the final proposal,” Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on Monday.
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.
The MTA board will vote on July 24 on whether to restore the B37 and other shuttered services. Money for the restoration is coming from an unexpected $40 million budget surplus the MTA reported this year.
Meanwhile, Bay Ridge elected officials are reporting significant progress in the ongoing fight to get the MTA to beef up other transit services in anticipation of the closure of the Montague Street Tunnel. The tunnel closure is expected to wreak havoc on R train riders’ commutes into Manhattan. The tunnel, scheduled to be closed for 14 months so that damage caused by Superstorm Sandy could be repaired, provides the link for the R train between Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Malliotakis and state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) both said they are pleased that MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast agreed to their request to increase service on the X27 express bus by 25 percent.
“This is a great first step in assuring commuters that the MTA realizes the need for additional services while there is no R train service to Manhattan,” Golden said.
“It’s good news. I’ve heard numerous constituents complain about long waits and crowded buses,” Malliotakis said. “I know what they mean. I take the express bus into Manhattan myself,” she added.
Golden said that while he is pleased with the progress, he’d like the MTA to do even more for commuters by increasing the express bus service by 50 percent. He is also proposing that the MTA reduce the fare on the X27 bus for the duration of the Montague Street Tunnel repair project.
“I know the importance of this construction to make sure we have a first-rate transit system, but while we shut down Bay Ridge’s major artery to Manhattan, we must make sure that multiple alternatives are presented to those who live and work in southern Brooklyn,” Golden said.
Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) said he is continuing his push for a temporary ferry service to be installed during the repair project. Under the plan, the ferry would run from the Brooklyn Army Terminal Pier in Sunset Park to a lower Manhattan pier near Wall Street. “A ferry from the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park would get commuters to Wall Street in 20 minutes,” Gentile said.
“I thank the MTA for doing the right thing with their $40 million surplus and bringing back our B37. But we cannot stop fighting for measures in order to mitigate the impact of the extraordinary 14-month Montague Street tunnel closure,” Gentile said.
“To that end, I continue to make the case for the MTA to provide additional bus service and ferry service, while guaranteeing that the improvements are implemented expeditiously,” Gentile said.
Gentile also said that the MTA has accepted proposals he submitted with the Riders Alliance. Those ideas included adding MTA staff members at key locations to assist riders seeking to make transfers in subway stations and having both escalators at the Jay Street/Metrotech R platform operate in the “up” direction to the A, C and F platform during morning rush hours.