By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The ride is getting better.
That was the common assessment lawmakers and city officials had about transit services in southwest Brooklyn.
The recent developments lauded by leaders included the return of weekend express bus service between Bay Ridge and midtown Manhattan, the start of elevator service at the Bay Parkway D train station in Bensonhurst, and the announcement that the New York City Transit Authority plans to make major repairs to the Bay Ridge Avenue R train station.
Riders of the X27 express will see weekend service return starting on Sept. 30, according to local officials.
The return of Saturday and Sunday service on the X27 express bus is a step in the right direction, according to Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis. “It’s a victory for this community and the first step toward our goal of restoring other services that were cut,” she said.
Elected officials and residents petitioned the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (M.T.A.) to bring back weekend service after it was eliminated in 2010. The M.T.A. announced in July that it was restoring the service. “The petitions, the letters, and the rallies all worked,” state Sen. Marty Golden said.
“Next, we have to get the B37 restored,” Malliotakis said. The B37 bus, which ran along Third Avenue from Bay Ridge to downtown Brooklyn, was cut in 2010. At the time, the M.T.A., citing budget problems, made a series of cuts in transit services.
Councilman Vincent Gentile said bus riders were clamoring for the weekend service to be revived. “In those two years, rarely has a day gone by without a constituent coming in to my office to ask when the weekend X27 was coming back,” he said.
Gentile praised M.T.A. Chairman Joe Lhota as a “Brooklyn guy” and said he understands the needs of the outer boroughs. “So, I am hoping we will continue down this path – and with the completion of the new Barclay's Center, we can finally persuade the MTA to bring back our beloved B37 as well,” the councilman said.
Straphangers in Bensonhurst no longer have to climb the stairs to get from the street level to the platform of the elevated D train line on Bay Parkway and 86th Street, thanks to the start of elevator service at the station.
Marnee Elias-Pavia, district manager of Community Board 11, said the new elevator will help residents who are physically handicapped. The construction of the elevator was part of a multi-million series of improvements to five subway stations along the D line, she said. The stations – Bay Parkway, 20th Avenue, 18th Avenue, 79th Street and 71st Street – have new stairs and platform walls.
Artwork was also installed in each station, Elias-Pavia said. At a Board 11 meeting on Sept. 12, she urged members to pay a visit to check out the paintings. “They’re beautiful!” she said.
Golden recently announced that the New York City Transit Authority has responded to his request to make improvements to the Bay Ridge Avenue.
Golden said Transit Authority Thomas Prendergast informed him that the Bay Ridge Avenue Station will be included in the agency’s 2013 In-House Painting Program and will be scraped, primed and painted by the end of 2013.
All the stairways will be repaired and the stairway areas will be scraped and painted by the end of this year.
“I thank the New York City Transit Authority for responding to the concerns of the residents who frequent the Bay Ridge Avenue train station and who wish to start and end their commute in a cleaner and safer station,” Golden said.