Bay Ridge Candidates Fight For Votes Through Rides

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Bay Ridge City Council candidates, Reverend Khader El-Yateem and Liam McCabe held dueling press events this morning to protest the six month closure of R train service at the Bay Ridge Avenue station.

Reverend Khader El-Yateem was outside the 96th Street Bay Ridge Avenue Train Station today demanding more transparency from the MTA. Photo by Kelly Mena

El-Yateem took the opportunity to demand more transparency from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) by calling for increased shuttle bus service and an increase in B9 service during the length of the closure.

The R train is the only subway train that services the Bay Ridge area with a ridership of over 2.6 million people annually, according to 2015 figures. There was shuttle bus service over the weekend that abruptly ended before the start of the work day Monday.

The democratic candidate for the 43rd district seat covering Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and parts of Bensonhurst and Bath Beach was quick to note the massive impact the station closure is having on families, students and the elderly as well as the lack of community input into the $24 million cosmetic renovations to the train station.

“Today we see chaos the closure of this station is having on the people in our district. We see that the MTA did not do a good job in reaching out to our residents. There are residents in this district that speak many different languages and they should have gotten flyers in their language in advance,” said El-Yateem.

Meanwhile Liam McCabe was giving rides to stranded straphangers. Photo By Kelly Mena

Republican McCabe took a more proactive approach to the closure by personally giving “shuttle service” to stranded riders to both the 59th street station and the 36th street station. McCabe started servicing riders at 6 a.m. and by 9 a.m. claimed to have helped about 100 residents in total.

“Look, I think we need it [shuttle service] but six months. Why can’t we get an escalator? Why can’t we get an elevator? Let’s ask for some real infrastructure changes if it’s going to be six months that we are going to have to suffer through this,” said McCabe.

One resident mentioned the lack of good service already plaguing the R train.

“The R train has been horrible. I mean it is voted like the worst train but it’s the only train that comes out here,” said one passenger.

“Shuttle buses were provided over the weekend because the weekend work involved the closures of all stations from 95 St to 36 St.”

“However, during the Bay Ridge Av R Subway closure, customers can use the nearby 77 St R Subway station or the 59 St R Subway station by taking the B9, B37, or B63 buses. The B9 bus stop is in front of the Bay Ridge Av R Subway station, or customers can walk one block to Third Avenue for the B37 (days/evenings only) or to Fifth Avenue at Senator Street for the B63 (all hours). We will closely monitor these alternative routes and make service adjustments if needed,” said MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz.

Ironically, the alternative service through the B9 bus improved dramatically over the course of this morning’s rush hour. By 9:30 a.m., the buses were arriving every 5 minutes with no lag time. In addition to the increased presence of MTA officials, current term-limited Bay Ridge Councilman Vincent Gentile made a quick survey of the station as well.  

The Prospect Avenue station is next in line for renovations that are expected to begin on June 5 for six months as well.

The entire project will cost an estimated $72 million and will include new platform edges, LED lighting, granite floors, improved station signage, new stairs, increased security cameras and Help Points, as well as upgraded electrical and communications systems. Commuters will also get to enjoy electronic charging stations, new benches, and new station art.

The project is slated for completion in 2020.

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