U.S. Rep. Max Rose has joined a group of fellow congressmembers to push for increased funding for improvements on South Brooklyn buses.
The push for federal funding is in support of a New York City Department of Transportation project to increase safety and accessibility through the creation of 15 bus bulbs and 15 bus pads at priority bus stops in South Brooklyn along 86th Street and Bay Parkway.
Bus bulbs are curb extensions that allow buses to stop and board passengers without exiting the travel lane. Bus pads are more-durable sections of pavement installed at bus stops which prevent the common problem of deteriorated asphalt in areas where buses make frequent stops.
The project also includes a trench restoration with full street reconstruction on 20th Avenue from 86th Street to Benson Avenue, and safety improvements at the intersection of Benson Avenue and 20th Avenue.
Rose led the delegation, along with his fellow Congressmembers Jerrold Nadler, Carolyn Maloney, Yvette Clarke, Nydia Velázquez and Hakeem Jeffries, in calling for the federal government to support the project to improve bus safety and accessibility in the southern part of the borough.
The six U.S. reps wrote a letter to K. Jane Williams, acting administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, citing recent accidents involving pedestrians and vehicles throughout the region and specifically in Bensonhurst, claiming the improvements are critical to ensuring Brooklynites are able to get where they need to go safely.
The letter also addressed the need for improved service on the subway system. “South Brooklyn is a particularly underserved area when it comes to public transportation,” the letter read. “Not only are subway stations sparse when compared with other neighborhoods of New York City, but also the service on these lines are some of the worst in the MTA system. As a result, bus service is often the only reliable way for Brooklynites to get about their daily lives.”
The letter continued, “This project will help to significantly improve safety and accessibility at bus stops currently located under an elevated rail line. At most of these locations, subway columns prevent buses from accessing the curb and bus riders are forced to wait for, board, and alight the bus in the middle of the street. This leaves bus riders vulnerable to collisions with vehicles and also results in bus stops which are inaccessible for the elderly and disabled, who may require the aid of the bus ramp/lift. In light of recent and tragic accidents involving pedestrians and vehicles in Brooklyn, and Bensonhurst specifically, these improvements are critical to ensuring Brooklynites are able to get where they need to go, safely.”
Rose was adamant that these fixes needed to be implemented immediately. “Our transportation options and reliability is bad enough in South Brooklyn, but no one should have to be standing in the middle of the road to wait for or board their bus,” Rose told this paper.
“We’ve seen too many tragedies on our streets,” he added. “I believe DOT’s proposal to improve safety and accessibility is an important step, and I hope the federal government hears our pleas because we cannot continue with the status quo.”
This paper reached out to the MTA for a comment, and was told that this was a DOT matter. The DOT had not responded by our deadline.
For Amanda Rich, who takes a city bus to work, the improvements would be welcome. “Due to MTA budget cuts, and poor subway service in our community, local bus service has been the best way for me to get to work and back,” said Rich.
“Still, many improvements are needed along the bus route,” she said. “Subway columns prevent buses from accessing the curb, which leaves some commuters standing in the street or on the curb to flag a bus down. For seniors and people with disabilities or passengers with small children this is a liability, and for someone like myself who’s vertically challenged at 5’1”, these improvements will make a big difference.”