Brooklyn Boro

Brooklyn bus overhaul hits speed bump with community outrage

October 4, 2019 Kelly Mena
The city Department of Transportation plans to create dedicated bus lanes on Church Avenue. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

A recent unveiling of the MTA’s “Fast Forward: Brooklyn Network Redesign” plan was met with immediate concerns as local stakeholders questioned the plan’s outreach efforts — a series of 10 open houses — that community leaders say leave their neighborhoods out of the conversation.

The open houses are the first phase of the plan, which will look to modernize and improve the borough’s bus network through a collaborative community process, according to the plan’s goals. The 10 locations include nine library branches — in Bushwick, Crown Heights, East New York, Williamsburg, Park Slope, Bay Ridge, Brighton Beach, Fort Greene and Kensington — as well as South Shore High School in Canarsie.

Of these locations, half are clustered in northern Brooklyn and one is in East New York. The other four are spread out over the vast area south of Prospect Park.

Related: Bus riders and electeds unload on MTA officials at Clinton Hill town hall

“If you want my board and the residents of my community to come out — there is nothing even close to us. There’s one location, but it’s in Brighton Beach — but you have to drive so how would my people respond at all? ” said Theresa Scavo, the chairperson of Community Board 15. “So you’re talking Manhattan Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Gerritsen Beach. There’s not a location anywhere near any of those neighborhoods.”

Brooklyn Bus Redesign open house locations. Map via MTA

The complaints dominated a 15-minute presentation on Oct. 2 at Brooklyn Borough Hall, where MTA representatives briefed community board heads during the monthly Brooklyn Borough Board meeting.

Gail Smith from Community Board 14, which covers Flatbush, Midwood and parts of Kensington, noted that reaching every community would be necessary in creating a final plan that includes all members of the borough.

“I, too, want to concur about the open house locations. I think that it is critical that there are more,” said Smith.

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MTA officials at Wednesday night’s meeting defended the locations. They were chosen because they were the “10 busiest bus stops in Brooklyn,” said project director Evan Bialostozky. As part of the outreach efforts, the plan includes “pop-ups” at the locations not part of the open house series.

“This is simply where we are starting,” said Andy Inglesby, the assistant director of government communications and relations for NYC Transit. “We are just kicking this off now, and we will have a whole year to be out there.”

Officials also pointed to an online survey for those who want to comment or give suggestions. Bus ridership in Brooklyn has been decreasing since 2016 — down 14 percent — according to MTA officials. Bus speeds have slowed as congestion has increased.

The new plan will be phased in over four stages, beginning with community input and wrapping up with a final release of a plan in late 2020. The first open house will be on Oct. 29 at the DeKalb Library.

Complete schedule of the open houses:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 29, at the DeKalb Library, 790 Bushwick Ave
  • Wednesday, Oct. 30, at the Crown Heights Library, 560 New York Ave.
  • Monday, Nov. 4, at South Shore High School, 6565 Flatlands Ave (Accessible entrance on Ralph Ave.)
  • Wednesday, Nov. 6, at the New Lots Library, 665 New Lots Ave.
  • Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Williamsburgh Library, 240 Division Ave.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 12, at the Park Slope Library, 431 6th Ave
  • Wednesday, Nov. 13, at the Bay Ridge Library, 7223 Ridge Blvd.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 19, at the Brighton Beach Library, 16 Brighton 1st Rd
  • Wednesday, Nov. 20, at the Walt Whitman Library, 93 St. Edwards St.
  • Thursday, Nov. 21, at the Kensington Library, 4207 18 Ave.

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