Colton submits B64 petition to MTA board

Assemblymember Bill Colton officially submitted the petition he has been circulating since November to bring the B64 back to Coney Island at the Metropolitan Transit Authority board meeting on Wednesday, June 27, but not till after he addressed members with a rousing speech.

“I am here to be a voice to these people who can’t make it here at 8:30 a.m. Board members should face the destructive effects of what their rubber stamping is doing to families in this city,” Colton said to a dozen board members at MTA headquarters on Madison Avenue.

The Transit Workers Union Local 100 is on the petition, along with dozens of community groups, including Most Precious Blood Church, the Bensonhurst West End Community Council, Our Lady of Grace Church, United Chinese Association of Brooklyn, the Association of Sicilians United, the Brooklyn Young Democrats and Community Education Council District 21, asking the MTA to restore B64 service to Stillwell Avenue, which was truncated in June 2010 to Harway and 25th Avenues.

Councilmember Vincent Gentile and Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny also signed the petition on behalf of their constituents in both Coney Island and Bay Ridge.

Bath Beach resident Mario D’Elia got up extra early to make his voice heard at the meeting. He said that since he retired, he and his wife rely on public transit often and don’t have many options in their corner of southwest Brooklyn. “I counted 50 stairs going up to the Bay 50th Street and 25th Avenue train stations,” he said. “It’s too hard for us to walk that.”

D’Elia recited a poem that he wrote during his public speaking time at the meeting. It even got a smile out of former Governor David Paterson, who was attending his first meeting as a member of the MTA board.

“We’re going to the MTA board to make out voices heard, if they don’t listen to our plea that’s totally absurd. We need the bus for our school kids and the physically impaired, but we don’t believe the MTA really even cared,” D’Elia read.

Some workers and representatives from the TWU also came to the meeting to show their support, but did not speak. Marvin Holland, director of political and community action development for the TWU, told this paper that the lack of service has not only impaired riders, but operators, as well.

Buses are crowded and delayed, and passengers blame it on the drivers, not the MTA,” he explained. “We are committed to working with the public to bring back these services.”

Paterson explained that as of now, the board is reevaluating the MTA’s financial situation and is looking into ways to restore services that were cut due to the recession.

“We have to look at what extent have we arisen from that [the recession] so perhaps services that were taken away can be restored with the same understanding that that’s how bad our economic crisis was,” he explained. “It put us in a position that had us make decisions to hurt people. It was extremely painful for me as the governor. Everybody can tell me what they didn’t want cut, but no one told me how they can balance the budget. Since that hasn’t changed, that’s something we have to look at.”

Board Chairperson Joseph Lhota agreed. “Not a day goes by when I don’t think about restoration of services and further investment in the system,” he said. “We are evaluating a plan right now, and will discuss this at committee meetings and at the board meeting in July. We need to understand the stability of our financial situation and then we will evaluate restoring service to customers.”

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