One major transit improvement for South Brooklyn has been given the green light, while another seems to be coming closer to fruition.
Much to Ridgeites’ delight, MTA New York City Transit announced on Thursday, June 16 that it will extend late night shuttle service on the R line into lower Manhattan. The same day, a swathe of South Brooklyn pols announced that a proposal for the return of weekend service on the X28 express bus line will be heard by the NYC Transit and Bus Committee of the MTA’s Board early next week.
“We always want to better serve our customers by strengthening service whenever we have sustainable resources to do so,” said MTA New York City Transit President Veronique Hakim in response to the increase in R shuttle service. “This added service will provide off peak customers with additional travel options and add seamless connectivity to vital transit hubs in Brooklyn.”
Late night R train service currently operates as a shuttle between 95th Street in Bay Ridge and 36th Street in Sunset Park. The proposed extension would run, instead, from 95th Street to Whitehall Street-South Ferry, giving Bay Ridge riders a direct link to Manhattan while also providing alternative service for late night customers who use the N between lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, or those who utilize the D between Dekalb Avenue and 36th Street.
The expansion comes on the heels of pleas from both local politicians and riders, such as Bay Ridge resident Liam McCabe who, on Friday, June 3, launched a grassroots campaign in support of a similar R-express.
“Indeed tonight is a night full of excitement for many transit riders, who stand to benefit from these new and improved service opportunities serving my constituents in Brooklyn,” said State Senator Marty Golden. “Improved late night R train service will help many who work night shifts, or who are out enjoying our city. The same goes for weekend express bus service. It will help to remove the problem many seniors and the disabled face in getting to Manhattan on the weekends, and again the city will be even more accessible on the weekends.”
“I’m extremely pleased that our voices in Bay Ridge are being heard,” added Councilmember Vincent Gentile. “Extending late night R shuttle service to the Whitehall Street-South Ferry Station in Manhattan will alleviate many of our riders’ complaints when dealing with delayed service during late night hours. Additionally, this extension provides options for our riders — some will no longer be forced to transfer to the D or N to get back home. The change is expected to favorably decrease headway time and if so, this is a home run for late night R train riders. Building on this progress, I look forward to further improvements on the R line.”
Meanwhile, on Monday, June 20, the agency will hear testimony on a proposal to reinstate Saturday and Sunday service on the X28 – an express bus route that serves neighborhoods like Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Coney Island and Sea Gate, and had its weekend service discontinued in 2010 as part of a service reduction plan.
“We promised residents in Southern Brooklyn that we would keep fighting for more transportation options, and we are seeing the fruits of our labor,” said Councilmember Mark Treyger, who long-advocated for the line’s return alongside State Senator Diane Savino, and Assemblymembers William Colton and Pamela Harris. “First, we recently saw the commitment for express service on the F train. Now, we are seeing really positive progress on getting weekend service on the X28 restored. We have not been asking for luxury items like streetcars.”
The line – which connects South Brooklyn with Downtown and Midtown Manhattan – saw a seven percent increase in weekday ridership in 2015.
The proposed restoration would see the X28 weekend service operate just as it did prior to the 2010 service cuts, traveling between West 37th Street/Surf Avenue in Coney Island and East 57th Street/Madison Avenue in Manhattan. Saturday service would operate from 6 a.m. to 8:15 p.m. toward Manhattan, and from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. toward Brooklyn. Sunday service would operate from 7 a.m. to 7:15 p.m. toward Manhattan, and from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. toward Brooklyn. Frequency would also be the same as it was prior to 2010, with Saturday service operating every 30-40 minutes, and Sunday service every 30-60 minutes.
“We just want to get back the transit services that were taken from us,” said Treyger. “Saturday is the busiest day of the week in Coney Island, and working families and small businesses suffered without the X28 on weekends.”