Sunset Park

B37 advocates ‘serenade’ MTA members

Sung to tune of ‘Jingle Bells,’ song demands full restoration of bus line

December 19, 2013 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Members of the Fifth Avenue Committee Inc. found a musical way to get their point across to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) about the need to restore full service to the B37 bus line in Brooklyn.

They serenaded MTA members at their Dec. 18 board meeting!

Using cleverly re-written lyrics, the transit advocates sang a song to the tune of “Jingle Bells,” only they weren’t wishing the MTA head honchos a Merry Christmas.

The lyrics they sang included: “Slipping on the snow, because the MTA, does not feel the need, to fund us all the way. Many blocks to go, making people frown, our B37 bus, must go all the way downtown!”

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The “concert” was part of an effort by the Fifth Avenue Committee, the Restore the B37 Bus Coalition and other groups to convince the MTA that when it brings back the B37 bus in 2014, it should restore the line to its old route, 24-hours a day. The MTA recently announced that it would bring back the B37 in 2014. But the bus line will terminate at the Barclays Center on Atlantic Avenue instead of traveling to Court Street as it did before the agency eliminated the line in 2010. The B37 will also operate on a part-time schedule, from 6 a.m.-11 p.m.

“It doesn’t really do anyone any good to have the B37 end at the Barclays Center,” said Jackie Del Valle, director of organizing and advocacy for the Fifth Avenue Committee. “Just going to the Barclays Center is not much better than having to take the train all the way,” she told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Passengers seeking to travel to New York State Supreme Court for jury duty or to stores in downtown Brooklyn will have to transfer from the B37 to a subway at Barclays Center to complete their trip. “People really need to get to downtown Brooklyn to do their shopping, go to doctor’s appointments, or get their benefits,” Del Valle said.

The Fifth Avenue Committee Inc. is a non-profit community organization in Brooklyn that formed in 1978 to work on behalf of 5,000 low and moderate income residents in Red Hook, Sunset Park, Gowanus and South Park Slope. The organization works on housing, education and transportation issues.

“It doesn’t make sense to have the bus end at Barclays Center. It almost has to go to Court Street to do a full turnaround anyway. Why not have it go all the way to downtown Brooklyn?” Del Valle said.

The committee is working with the Restore the B37 Bus Coalition, an umbrella organization composed of elected officials, civic groups, and business leaders, on a new push to get better service on the B37.

The transit advocates are urging residents to call the MTA at 511 and to call Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office at 518-474-8390 to ask that full service be restored.

There is also a petition at that advocates are asking residents to sign.

When it begins service in 2014, the B37 bus will run from Shore Road in Bay Ridge to the Barclays Center, traveling through Bay Ridge, Sunset Park and other neighborhoods along its route. A large portion of the route is on Third Avenue.

Full restoration of the B37 bus has been the subject of numerous protest rallies, petition drives and letter writing campaigns from Bay Ridge to Brooklyn Heights for three years, ever since the MTA scrapped the bus line in a cost-cutting measure.

Earlier this year, riders received the good news that the B37 would be making a comeback. But their joy was tempered by the news that the bus line had been truncated and would not run late at night.

Charlene Nimmons, president of the Wyckoff Gardens Tenant Association, said the lack of late night service makes her uneasy. “With service only running from 6 a.m.-11 p.m., I think of workers. There are people who are going to be working at Whole Foods and at the warehouses. Some of these warehouses are open 24 hours a day. For these workers not to have access to the bus will be terrible,” she told the Eagle.

Full time, full service on a full route is what is needed, according to Nimmons. “We’re excited about the bus coming back. But we want full service, especially for our senior population. If they could have a full run and not have get off the bus and transfer to a subway, that would be good,” she said.

The MTA isn’t budging, at least for now.

“Prior to the route’s elimination in 2010, it was losing ridership due to reliability issues. The bus was often stuck on congested streets in Downtown Brooklyn where several other bus routes run,” MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz wrote in an email to the Eagle.

 “Terminating the B37 at Barclays Center will improve the route’s reliability and provide more seamless service for customers,” he wrote.

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