It’s just too far.
Brooklyn commuters inconvenienced by the distance between the Kings Highway and Avenue U Select Bus Service (SBS) stops on the B-44 Nostrand Avenue bus made their displeasure with the arrangement known during a rally at Avenue R and Nostrand Avenue organized by Councilmember Chaim Deutsch.
Deutsch, Councilmember Alan Maisel and Assemblymember Helene Weinstein – who have been working together on the issue for about a year – called on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to add the stop during the Thursday, April 30 event.
“While waiting for a local bus at Avenue R, many commuters watch as three or four SBS buses drive by, often empty or nearly empty,” said Deutsch. “Meanwhile, when the local bus finally arrives, it is usually packed with passengers from previous stops. It is intolerable that anyone, especially a senior, should be forced to stand and wait for a local bus for so long, particularly in harsh weather such as extreme cold, heat, rain or snow. I appeal to the MTA to consider the community’s needs and eliminate the current situation that subjects commuters to extended wait times or a half-mile walk.”
In the past, the MTA has refused to add the stop, according to Deutsch’s office, even though the intersection is a transfer point for the B2 and B31 that connect with the Q and B trains at Kings Highway and East 16th Street, and even though there is over a mile between the two flanking stops. This leaves commuters with the choice of walking half a mile to get to an SBS stop or cooling their heels for as long as half an hour till the local bus finally arrives.
“For too long, the MTA has ignored the pleas of our community to give us a Select Bus Stop at Nostrand Avenue and Avenue R,” said Maisel. “Many of our seniors cannot get to the other Select Bus Stops, and we have a very high concentration of elderly and disabled people who desperately need a more convenient means of accessing Select Bus Service.”
Weinstein, who said she is fortunate to “represent a district with one of the highest concentrations of seniors in New York City,” noted that there is no reason “why an elderly person, or an individual with a disability, should have to walk nearly half of a mile in order to take advantage of quicker bus transportation.”
The presentation included a visual mock-up of the B44 route with a visible stretch of road (between Kings Highway and Avenue U) longer than any other seen between two stops. The B44 corridor extends from Williamsburg to Sheepshead Bay and sees approximately 41,000 passengers on an average weekday, according to the MTA.
However, this doesn’t mean that the agency will be adding the requested SBS stop. “We’ve actually looked into it since the councilmember brought it up to us and it’s just not feasible [putting a stop] in that location,” said MTA press representative Amanda Kwan. “The transfer levels are just much lower there and there are physical obstacles at Avenue R. We were looking into lengthening the northbound stop there [but] the lengthened stop would have gone across a private driveway.”
SBS service was introduced on Nostrand Avenue in late 2013, and the MTA – after protests by riders and elected officials – added a stop for the bus at Avenue L, near Andries Hudde Junior High School.