Electeds Keep Pressure On MTA Over SBS B82

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There could be a little wiggle room in the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s plan to roll out the Select Bus Service SBS B82 across a wide swath of transit-starved Southern Brooklyn including along the main Kings Highway thoroughfare.

That after a group of Southern Brooklyn’s elected officials met with  MTA and Department of Transportation officials on Monday to discuss the plan, which originally was expected to roll out this summer.

City Councilman Chaim Deutsch

“I was pleased to have had the opportunity to arrange for a meeting with MTA President Andy Byford, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, and Southern Brooklyn elected officials,” said City Council Member Chaim Deutsch (D-Sheepshead Bay, Midwood, Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach).

“My colleagues and I had the opportunity to present our concerns directly to leadership. Thanks to State Senators Simcha Felder and Marty Golden; Assemblymembers Helene Weinstein, Bill Colton, Dov Hikind, and Steve Cymbrowitz; and Councilmembers Mark Treyger and Kalman Yeger for their continued partnership and advocacy on behalf of the community.

The B82 route runs through major arteries of southern Brooklyn from Coney Island through Bath Beach and Bensonhust and then along Kings Highway between Marine Park, Midwood, Flatbush and East Flatbush up Flatlands Avenue through Flatlands and Canarise before ending at Spring Creek Gardens, formerly Starrett City.

The SBS service includes off-board fare payment, bus lanes, traffic signal priority, and longer spacing between stops. The electeds and constituents fear creating bus lanes will further bottleneck the already congested roads along the route, take away much-needed parking and hurt seniors and the disabled who depend on the local stops, which the SBS will bypass.

“The fact is, if buses ran on time – and if there were enough buses assigned to each line – there would be no need for an SBS route. Taking away a lane for traffic to flow is only going to exacerbate an already existing congestion problem on Kings Highway,” said Deutsch.

The B82 bus route across Southern Brooklyn.

Following the meeting, MTA Spokesperson Shams Tarek, would not confirm or deny when the SBS would start or if it is being tabled.

“We always strive to be mindful of local impacts when embarking upon a transit improvement project.  This is one of the busiest bus routes in Brooklyn and we want to be partners with the communities we operate in; we’re in discussions with local elected officials about this route and are committed to addressing community concerns while also serving the area’s public transit needs,” said Tarek.

But the DOT, which is charged with installing the dedicated bus lanes and new stops for the double-long SBS busses, appear to be on track to make the changes.

“At a time of tremendous concern citywide about declining bus ridership, elected officials and advocates have called on DOT and the MTA to make dramatic improvements to the City’s bus system, which means improving bus speeds and reliability along the busiest routes that carry the most riders,” said a DOT Spokesperson.

“Along Kings Highway, buses now average 5 mph or slower from McDonald Avenue to Ocean Avenue (among the slowest speeds in the entire city), making the conversion of the B82 to Select Bus Service a priority. SBS will bring shorter travel times and more reliable service for 28,000 daily riders along one of Brooklyn’s busiest bus routes. DOT and MTA have done detailed consultation with the community and its leaders about this route for the last three years and we will continue to speak with elected officials in the weeks ahead to garner further feedback about the project,” the spokesperson added.

The spokesperson said as a result of listening to community concerns, bus lanes on the narrow section of Kings Highway will only be in effect during peak periods, or 6 hours per day. DOT is also adding 44 new parking spaces to the area.

In the meantime, the local elected officials held a packed town hall on the subject, in which about 200 people turned out to voice opposition to the SBS B82.

The local electeds are urging constituents to voice thier concerns directly to the MTA and DOT at:

MTA: http://mta-nyc.custhelp.com/app/ask

SBS comments: Brt@dot.nyc.gov