It looks like grassroots Brooklyn activism got a win today, and in impressive time.
After over two months of filing complaints, attending rallies and signing petitions, Midwood and Bedford-Stuyvesant residents received the news on Friday, February 7 that three bus stops along the B44 Select Bus Service (SBS) route will be returned to them, come Spring, 2014.
The three stops in question are at Avenue L and Nostrand Avenue, Gates and Nostrand Avenues, and Gates and Bedford Avenue–all of them located either along busy commercial strips or near schools and health care centers, and all of them at bus transfer points.
According to Assemblymember Rhoda Jacobs and community advocate L. Rickie Tulloch, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) responded to their ongoing petition –which has thus far garnered over 400 signatures–with a letter stating that the changes are being made “in order to address several outstanding issues along the route” and which “will improve operations along the entire route.”
“Thank you to everyone who signed and shared the petition drive,” Jacobs said. “Your voices have made the difference in this effort.”
Jacobs, Tulloch, Councilmembers Jumaane Williams and Chaim Deutsch, and local business and civic leaders have been vocal about the bus problems and are thrilled about the prospect of amendments.
They held a celebratory rally at the Avenue L stop on Monday, February 10, to also help spread the words to early morning commuters.
“I want to foremost applaud the MTA for hearing and responding to our community’s concerns,” said Williams, who held a rally on November 18–the day after SBS service arrived–to protest the exclusion of the Avenue L stop. “Thanks to all the constituents who brought this issue to my attention [and] through the collaborative efforts of my office, in conjunction with my colleagues in government. . .we were able to relay those concerns to the MTA and successfully lobby for this change.”
“The people have spoken and our concerns have been heard,” Tulloch said. “The MTA’s planned changes are an excellent start. . . will continue to monitor the situation and will be in contact with B44 bus riders and the MTA on an ongoing basis as these changes are implemented.”
Currently the three affected bus stops are Local stops; they will be added to the SBS route, necessitating the lengthening of the stops, installation of fare machines and other “street furniture.” They also will allow for easier bus transfers with the B9 and B52 buses.
In addition to the new bus stops, more local stops will be added.
“The addition of local bus service along the entire B44 route effective Sunday, February 2. . . will address recent concerns about overcrowding and poor reliability of the B44 local.
Schedule changes will also be implemented in early April 2014 to allow for fewer to no transfers between Sheepshead Bay to Williamsburg Bridge Plaza.