Longer buses, more seats coming to B1 line

MTA says new vehicles to roll out in April

February 10, 2020 Paula Katinas
A stretch of Church Avenue is getting dedicated bus lanes. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
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If you ride the B1 bus, your chances of getting a seat are about to increase significantly.

The MTA confirmed that new, longer buses with more passenger capacity are coming to the B1 bus line in April.

Officials from New York City Transit informed Community Board 10 of the coming change in a letter sent to the board on Jan. 16, according to District Manager Josephine Beckmann.

The longer vehicles, called articulated buses, are 60-feet long, as opposed to the standard-model buses, which are 40 feet in length. The articulated buses, which have an accordion-type section in the center, have a capacity to carry up to 115 passengers, 30 more than the buses currently in use.

“The B1 will be fully converted to articulated operation in April 2020,” MTA spokesperson Shams Tarek said in an email.

The B1 runs between Bay Ridge and Kingsborough Community College in Manhattan Beach. The bus operates along 86th Street in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst for much of its route.

The changeover to articulated buses on the B1 line is being done partly to accommodate students traveling to and from Kingsborough Community College, officials said.

Beckmann said the Kingsborough-bound B1’s first stop, at 86th Street and Fourth Avenue, is near the 86th Street station on the R subway line. The line of passengers waiting for the B1 often stretches around the corner, she said.

But while Beckmann applauded the idea of more seats for passengers, she expressed concern about how the articulated B1 buses will navigate tricky turns at key spots along the route, including 86th Street and Fourth Avenue.

The B1’s last stop is 87th Street and Fourth Avenue. In order to start the route again, the B1 drivers have to make a right turn from 87th Street onto Fourth Avenue, travel on Fourth Avenue for one block to 86th Street then make another right turn from Fourth Avenue onto 86th Street.

The MTA is constructing an elevator at the R train station on 86th Street and Fourth Avenue, a project the agency hopes to complete before the bus switch takes place. 

“My initial concerns for the B1 include the right turn at 86th Street at Fourth Avenue with the new elevator. Also, the B1 does make a difficult left turn at Fifth Avenue and 86th Street, which is often congested and may need a DOT street review,” Beckmann wrote in the district manager’s report she delivered at Board 10’s meeting on Jan. 27.

The elevator project is expected to be completed by March, but any delay could make that corner more congested, local officials said.

The MTA is confident that any problems can be addressed.

“Safety is our top priority,” Tarek said. “Articulated buses have shorter turning radii than standard buses, which makes maneuvering around obstructions easier,” he said.

Beckmann said Board 10 will invite MTA representatives to its next Traffic and Transportation Committee meeting so that board members can learn more about the articulated buses coming to the B1 line.

The B1 is the only Brooklyn bus line scheduled to get articulated buses this spring, according to Tarek. The B46 line got the new buses in January.

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