Curtains for the B64?

August 1, 2011 Denise Romano
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Is the B64 on the chopping block?

The MTA says no, but given the MTA’s notoriously straitenedbudget, prior cuts to bus service in southwest Brooklyn includingtruncating the B64 to eliminate its Coney Island terminus andcutting overnight service, and the reduced ridership that hasresulted, riders and transit advocates are wondering preciselythat.

The B64 is a prime target for cuts — if there is no ridership,the route is not justified, said Allan Rosen, former director ofMTA/NYC Transit bus planning, who speculated about the line’s future recently on theSheepsheadBites blog

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The first two steps were taken in June 2010, part of the MTA’slast series of money-saving changes, and the third is scheduled tobe put into effect in September, as the MTA has announced plans toincrease the wait between morning peak hour buses from nine to 10minutes.

Five-minute increases in wait time are planned at other hours,with a whopping 10-minute increase in the time between busesplanned for Sunday evenings, from 20 to 30 minutes.

In the meantime, ridership has already dropped, 16.9 percentbetween July and December, 2010, according to the MTA.

Next they will take away weekend service, Rosen predicted toThe Brooklyn Spectator.

They already cut the B37 bus, who is to say they won’t cut thisone? added Mike Williams, referring to the elimination of theThird Avenue bus in Bay Ridge back in June, 2010, the same time theroute of the B64 was shortened to end at Harway and 25thAvenues.

Adding fuel to the fire are the ongoing MTA budget woes. OnWednesday, the cash-strapped authority released its preliminary2012 budget proposal, which includes 7.5 percent fare and tollhikes in 2013 and 2015. Plus, MTA chairman Jay Walder announcedlast week that he would be resigning in October.

Jay Walder promised not to make any more major service cuts,but now that he is gone, they can do anything they want, Rosennoted

B64 riders said they did not know what they would do if theroute were eliminated.

It would be a big pain in the neck, said Charlotte Adkins ofSunset Park, who takes the bus every Monday night to her SweetAdelines rehearsal. The B64 is the only bus that can take me allthe way to 13th Avenue. I would have to take car service and pay$10 instead of the $1.25 I pay to ride the bus.

The bus’s elimination would also be a major inconvenience forVinny Rutuelo, of Bay Ridge, who uses it to visit his girlfriendevery night. My girlfriend lives on Bay 32nd Street and the B64leaves me right on her corner, he noted.

Cutting the route would particularly impact older people, saidWilliams, who takes the B64 about once a week for work. It’s oneof the few ways the elderly can get around, especially if they wantto cross the Gowanus Expressway. This bus is very important.

But, not everyone is worried. Cate Contino, a coordinator at theNYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, said not to fret yet. There is nocut and dry answer, she said. Sometimes lower ridership is areflection of less service and sometimes less service is areflection of lowered ridership. The MTA has said publicly thatthey are not interested in cutting service beyond normal scheduleadjustments.

According to MTA spokesperson Deirdre Parker, there are noplans to eliminate the B64 and they insist that they have notmade any changes in service to the B64 since the budget reductionsof June 2010.

Helen Klein contributed reporting to this article.

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