Locals advocate for better B1 bus service

One local pol – backed by Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 – is calling on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to boost B1 bus service between Kingsborough Community College in Manhattan Beach and Bay Ridge, something students and residents agree has been a long time coming.

“It’s clear that there are some serious problems plaguing this bus route, including frequent bus lateness, irregular service and excessive passenger overcrowding regardless of the time of day,” said Assemblymember William Colton who, earlier this month, penned a letter to the MTA requesting additional service for the route, which, he said, “Will help alleviate these problems, which are hindering the quality of life of local residents.”

Colton’s letter rides on the coattails of a letter from TWU 100 – a group that’s been dealing with the underserviced route and its backlash for years. In particular, both the union and Colton contend, record high enrollment at Kingsborough has strained the B1’s overall availability yet, instead of seeing an increase in service, the line saw a decrease from one winter to the next.

According to Colton’s office, the B1 made a total of 696 total trips during the winter 2014 “school open” season, versus 523 total trips made during the winter 2015 “school open” season.

“That [cut] was noticeable,” said Bay Ridge resident and Kingsborough College student Robert Minondo, who takes the B1 from its very first stop at Fourth Avenue and 86th Street to its very last stop outside the community college. “During peak school hours, and even off-peak, it’s cut-throat just getting on the bus. I’ve had mornings where I do everything to schedule and – just because the buses weren’t on time themselves – there’s this ridiculous backup of people trying to get on the bus. At the same time, you have these packed buses flying by residents who, during the day, are mostly elderly people or mothers with children, because either the bus genuinely can’t fit any more people or because the driver is behind schedule.”

Minondo says the most he’s ever waited for a B1 was two hours – not counting the times he’s hopped on a bus to Bay Ridge, only for it to switch to limited service mid-ride and claim its last stop as Stillwell Avenue.

Right now, the rider explained, there are three types of B1 buses – one that goes to Bay Ridge, one that goes to Stillwell Avenue and one that goes to Ocean Parkway.

“I’ve waited two hours for a spot on a bus to Bay Ridge only to be told to get off at Stillwell Avenue, where I’ve waited an hour and a half for another bus,” he said, contending that, at this point, it’s faster for Ridge riders to catch the B1 at Stillwell Avenue, rather than at Kingsborough, to alleviate some of the rush of riders only utilizing the B1 to get to the subway. “The way the B1 runs now is just counter-productive, and it doesn’t seem to be helping anybody.”

Friend and classmate Michael Lupiano agreed.

“My main complaint is the majority of the buses don’t go all the way to Fourth Avenue,” said the Bensonhurst resident who often rides with Minondo to Bay Ridge. “They mostly just go to Ocean Parkway, and these kids pack the buses out just to go three stops to the subway.”

A petition pushing for greater B1 service can be signed at Colton’s office, 155 Kings Highway, or online at http://bit.ly/1F4xhe1. The B1 services Manhattan Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Gravesend, Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge.

“The problems on the B1 need to be addressed by the MTA,” Colton stressed, “and I am calling on them to make the necessary improvements in service.”

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