Crown Heights

Bring back B71 bus to Brooklyn, advocates tell MTA

Easier to get to Manhattan museums than Brooklyn institutions

November 14, 2017 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
From left: Susannah Pasquantonio, chief of staff for Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon; Karen Blondel, organizer for Fifth Avenue Committee; Advocate Kevin Zeng; Councilmember Brad Lander, Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon; parent Kathy Price; Annie Levers, policy director for Councilmember Brad Landers. Photo courtesy of the Office of Councilmember Brad Lander

You can’t get there from here, parents and officials pushing for the return of the cross-Gowanus B71 bus complained at Monday’s meeting of the MTA Bus Committee.

It’s easier for many Brooklyn families to get to the Children’s Museum on Manhattan’s Upper West Side or to the Whitney than to get to their own Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Park Slope mom (and Community Education Council 15 co-vice president) Kathy Park Price testified.

While tourists from around the world flock to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Brooklyn Museum, it’s just too hard for many native Brooklynites. Stephanie Wilchfort, president of Brooklyn Children’s Museum, told the MTA committee that residents of Red Hook, Gowanus and others who live close to the waterfront “have very little direct access to our institutions.”

The B71 would link Red Hook and Gowanus with these cultural sites. In addition, advocates want to expand the route with a new link through Red Hook into Lower Manhattan, a concept they’ve dubbed the “B71+.”

Councilmember Brad Lander testified that there is more than a mile between the nearest eastbound buses, the B61 and B65. He joined representatives of 30-plus cultural institutions, schools and civic organizations to present more than 2,500 petitions to the MTA committee.

The B71 line, which ran along Union Street, was eliminated in 2010 as part of systemwide budget cuts. Despite the economic recovery and 10.7 percent population growth along the route, it was never restored. Meanwhile, Red Hook residents remain in what officials call a transit desert.

Red Hook is not served by any subway stop, and only by two local Brooklyn bus routes.

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Councilmember Carlos Menchaca presented written testimony saying, “The proposed B71+ Bus Route is an essential part of making Red Hook accessible to the rest of the city. This new bus route has the potential to offer Red Hook residents access to thousands of jobs in Manhattan.”

The Park Slope Civic Council’s Livable Streets Committee undertook a study of the route in 2015, and presented a proposal to restore the B71 along the modified route.

Also testifying at the meeting were Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon and Karen Blondel, organizer from Fifth Avenue Committee.

 

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