In the midst of a busy Tuesday, May 15 evening commute, members of the Riders Alliance and local straphangers gathered at the Kings Highway and East 16th Street B82 stop for three hours to let local politicians they believe to be blocking Selective Bus Service (SBS) from being implemented on the B82 line that many bus riders, in fact, want the service.
Those gathered in the area handed out pamphlets and spoke to fellow commuters, voicing their displeasure with the actions of the pols who have come out against the service because of concerns expressed by constituents and merchants along the route in Gravesend, particularly. The city’s Department of Transportation introduced the plan as a way of dealing with the traffic congestion that runs along the B82 route, including Kings Highway, one of the busier roadways in Brooklyn.
SBS was first introduced by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2008 with the goal to reduce travel time and improve the level of comfort for the many riders that utilized city buses each day.
Stephanie Burgos-Veras, the senior organizer for the Riders Alliance, is angry about the efforts to block the service.
“28,000 daily B82 riders were offered genuine relief from gridlock on Kings Highway when the MTA and DOT proposed Select Bus Service,” said Veras. “Yet their very own representatives are now blocking the plan to deliver them home earlier to their children after a hard day’s work each evening. Riders will not stand for being made second-class citizens in their own neighborhood.”
A total of 30,000 yearly riders would benefit from SBS, according to the Riders Alliance. Veras also believes that the addition of SBS would actually improve the neighborhood.
“When people have access to better public transit, they are more likely to visit their favorite stores and spend more time with their families and friend.,” Veras said. “Why politicians are blocking better bus service is a great question to ask them, especially when, at minimum, tens of thousands of their own constituents stand to benefit from SBS.”
One of those politicians Veras and the Riders Alliance have questioned and called out is State Senator Marty Golden, who wrote a letter to DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg back in March regarding the proposed SBS plan on the B82 line.
In the letter, Golden said, “I have consistently, together with other legislators expressed concern that the required dedicated lane could negatively affect business where such lane results (even for part of a day) in a reduction of parking spaces.”
Golden is not the only elected official to oppose adding SBS on the B82 line. Assemblymember William Colton joined residents and business owners in Gravesend over a month ago protesting SBS, saying that it would take away valuable parking spots that are already difficult to come by in the area, putting pressure on businesses whose customers would be deterred by the lack of parking, as well as residents who would have difficulty finding parking along Kings Highway there.
Despite the setbacks facing SBS on the B82 line, Veras is still confident that the plan will come to fruition because of all of its benefits.
“The B82 is an important east-west connector, serving nearly 30,000 bus riders, along six different train lines, across multiple neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Better transportation would allow people to get to work, go to school, make their doctor’s appointments, and be part of community groups, all without the fear of running late all the time.”
Veras also told this paper, “We will continue to fight back against the notion that bus riders can be pushed around and denied improvements in their quality of life.”
As of now, implementation of SBS on the B82 line has been suspended by MTA President Andy Byford. There is no word regarding when a decision will be made to implement SBS on the B82 route.