Hundreds of Bensonhurst residents rallied in front of the Ulmer Park Bus Depot on Saturday, June 16 asking the Transit Authority to restore the B64s route to Coney Island.
The protest was organized by Assemblymember Bill Colton and Transit Workers Union Local 100. Since November, Colton has been running a petition drive to bring back the full bus route, which was truncated in June, 2010 and only runs to Harway and 25th Avenues instead of Stillwell Avenue as it originally did.
It was very, very effective. We certainly got the message to the MTA to pay attention and that has to happen because they dont respond to community concerns, Colton said, adding that seniors and people with disabilities were on hand to demonstrate how much they need the bus.
They all expressed that this bus is an important part of the vitality of southern Brooklyn. It is very clear that this bus is needed, Colton added.
Community groups from across southern Brooklyn attended the rally. Councilmember Vincent Gentile and Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny expressed their support of the effort. Speakers included Father John Maduri of Most Precious Blood Church; Steve Chung of the United Chinese Association; Todd Dobrin of Friends of the Boardwalk; Victoria Stancil of the Marlboro Tenants Association; Mitchel Cohen, head of the Brooklyn Greens party; Andrew Gounardes, candidate for State Senate; Anthony Testaverde, a representative of State Senator Marty Golden; Community Board 13 Chair Eddie Mark; and Carmine Santa-Maria, president of the Bensonhurst West End Community Council and president of the Harway Terrace Apartments board.
Colton noted that the city does not focus on transportation issues in the southern part of the borough the way it does on its neighbors to the north. What is most shocking to me, is that you have the city spending hundreds of millions of dollars to make Coney Island into a big tourist destination and at the same time, the MTA is cutting bus service on the B64 and the B82, he explained.
When you want to improve and develop an area, normally what you do is have a community benefit plan. It happened in Downtown Brooklyn when the Nets Stadium was built there was a deal to increase transportation in the area, Colton went on. Instead of increasing public transit [to and from Coney Island], they have been reducing it.
A spokesperson for the MTA said the organization was unable to comment on the issue until the petition was officially submitted.