Transit prez fields straphangers’ concerns at Bay Ridge Q&A

May 22, 2019 Meaghan McGoldrick
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Transit head Andy Byford rode the R train to Bay Ridge Tuesday night for a heated question-and-answer session with Ridge residents who have long grappled with problems arising from their sole subway line.

Byford, the president of MTA New York City Transit, trekked to Holy Angels Catholic Academy, 7320 Fourth Avenue, to discuss the MTA’s Fast Forward Plan and field queries from straphangers.

Councilmember Justin Brannan, who had long-promised to get Byford to Bay Ridge for a tell-all, also addressed audience members about getting southern Brooklyn transit back on track.

“It was good to see the MTA president take the R train to the dark side of the moon and take questions directly from commuters. Southern Brooklyn is tired of being ignored when it comes to our subways and buses,” the pol told Brooklyn Reporter. “Having Andy at the helm of the MTA is refreshing because not only is he willing to admit the entire system needs a lobotomy but he has a plan to fix it.”

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The bottom line, Brannan said is that “right now people who live in different states can get to Manhattan quicker than we can and that is just unacceptable.

“Whether you live in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach or Bensonhurst, no New Yorker should have to travel more than an hour to get to work and I will do everything in my power to make that a reality.”

Councilmember Justin Brannan. Photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit

Doors opened at 5:30 p.m., with guests welcome to speak one-on-one with a room full of MTA representatives before Byford took the stage. The prez’s program began at 6:30, and led off with a 30-minute presentation focused on Fast Forward, a five to 10-year plan to overhaul — and modernize — the subway system in its entirety.

Byford said he hopes that R train woes will be mitigated by a coming signal replacement included in the plan. In addition, he addressed other issues raised by riders from station accessibility to excruciating wait times during rush hour.

He also assured audience members that tunnel work relevant to the R line would be completed this summer.

“This was a great event where my chief customer officer, my accessibility advisor and I got to hear directly from the people of Bay Ridge, and tell them about everything we’re doing to improve their commutes including speeding up service and making the system more accessible,” Byford said in a statement.

His appearance was, for the most part, well-received.

One audience member tweeted his thanks at the MTA for sending Byford to Bay Ridge. “Fellow seems like a decent, humble and genuine guy,” the user wrote. “I hope he makes a difference.”

Some users, however, felt that a later meeting would have better suited straphangers.

When State Sen. Andrew Gounardes shared photos of a dangerously crowded R train platform at 59th Street around 6:30 p.m., one Twitter user replied that Byford should have heard from those commuters, “but his event in Bay Ridge started at 5:30 and none of them could get home that early.”

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