With the closure of the Bay Ridge Avenue subway station fast approaching, local residents are still calling on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to ease the blow.
The station will close on Saturday, April 29 for at least half a year for reconstruction.
“The Bay Ridge Avenue station is scheduled to close in less than one week, and we have not received any response from either the MTA or the governor’s office to our letter and petition. That’s just plain unacceptable,” said local resident Andrew Gounardes, who penned a letter earlier this year calling on the MTA either to run shuttle bus service between Bay Ridge Avenue and 59th Street or temporarily boost bus service on three nearby buses – the B9, B37 and B63 – while the Bay Ridge Avenue station is closed for repairs.
That letter was sent to both MTA President Veronique Hakim and Governor Andrew Cuomo alongside a similar letter signed by local politicians as well as thousands of signatures gathered by Gounardes firmly requesting the same thing.
“As the second busiest station servicing commuters in Bay Ridge, the R train is a critical and affordable transportation resource for students, working professionals and seniors on a fixed income traveling to and from the neighborhood,” wrote State Senator Marty Golden and Assemblymembers Nicole Malliotakis, Felix Ortiz and Pamela Harris in their joint letter. “Additionally, the Bay Ridge Avenue station serves as a vital transfer point between the R train and the B64 and B9 buses.”
“The 8,000+ residents of southern Brooklyn who use and rely on the R train and the Bay Ridge Avenue station deserve a response – even if the response is ‘sorry, we can’t do anything to help,’” Gounardes told this paper. “At least then people will know they have to start to plan for alternative modes of travel. Right now, the MTA’s radio silence, just like an all-too frequent garbled train announcement, is not helpful and only adds to commuters’ frustrations.”
Once reconstruction is complete, the revamped Bay Ridge Avenue station will feature enhanced lighting throughout, as well as improved signage to make it easier for straphangers to navigate their stops. It will also include at least one countdown clock, improved cell service, new art and a real-time navigation system.
The Bay Ridge Avenue station is just one of 31 stops citywide that will see such an overhaul, as announced by Cuomo over the summer, alongside the 53rd Street station in Sunset Park, which closed late last month.
Once the station closes, it will leave just three points of access to the R train in Bay Ridge — 95th Street, 86th Street and 77th Street — and leave an 18-block gap between neighboring stops.
When reached for comment, an MTA spokesperson said, “The B9 runs between Bay Ridge Avenue and 59th Street and connects Bay Ridge Avenue to 59th Street,” adding that the agency “will monitor the B9 to see if additional service is needed.”
According to protesters, the shutdown will require nearly 8,379 commuters on average to travel to another stop to catch the R on a daily basis.
Correction [4/19]: A previous version of this article said that the station would be closing this weekend. The station will be closing next Saturday, April 29.