De­bate on Kings High­way SBS Heats Up; Elected Of­fi­cials Blast DOT Plan as Eco­nom­i­cally Dis­as­trous

The Jewish Voice - - SPECIAL FEATURES - By: Ja­cob Fish­bein

Com­mu­nity lead­ers, a bevy of elected of­fi­cials, a con­glom­er­a­tion of re­tail shop own­ers and a large per­cent­age of pub­lic trans­porta­tion rid­ers in the Kings High­way area of Brook­lyn are up in arms over a pro­posal by the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion to ini­ti­ate Se­lec­tive Bus Ser­vice on the B82 bus route.

In an ex­cep­tion­ally busy com­mer­cial cor­ri­dor, those who are staunchly op­posed to the SBS pro­posal say that they are con­cerned with such a route bring­ing fur­ther con­ges­tion.

The B82 route cur­rently runs from Seav­iew Av­enue in Ca­nar­sie to Mer­maid Av­enue in Coney Is­land. The ma­jor­ity of the route trav­els on Kings High­way which nar­rows to two lanes at Nos­trand Av­enue.

The new bus-only lanes will be lo­cated along Kings High­way at:

• E. 4th Street to McDonald Av­enue

• Coney Is­land Av­enue to Ocean Park­way

• E. 18th to E. 16th streets

• E. 13th to E.15th streets

• E. 18th Street to Ocean Av­enue

The lanes will be in ef­fect from 7 to 10 am and 4 to 7 pm Mon­day through Friday.

Call­ing the pro­posed SBS on Kings High­way ill ad­vised, Brook­lyn Coun­cil­man Chaim Deutsch said, “This plan will re­move over 100 park­ing spots dur­ing peak hours – and lo­cal stores will be the ones that suf­fer, as cus­tomers choose to shop else­where. Peo­ple who use their cars to come to the shop­ping dis­tricts will have a more dif­fi­cult time find­ing park­ing and they will be dis­cour­aged from com­ing there.”

Echo­ing Coun­cil­man Deutsch's sen­ti­ments was Com­mu­nity Board 15 Chair­woman Theresa Scavo who said, “If you put in a bus lane, where is that go­ing to go on Kings High­way? You would have to take away park­ing. If I was a busi­ness mer­chant, you might as well kill my busi­ness right now. This would be a dis­as­ter for Kings High­way.”

Coun­cil­man Deutsch said he has met sev­eral times the DOT and MTA to dis­cuss the pro­posal. Scavo said city of­fi­cials briefly dis­cussed the plan with the com­mu­nity board last year.

“Once again, here is gov­ern­ment telling peo­ple what's good for them, as if they know bet­ter,” said Assem­bly­man Dov Hikind (D–Mid­wood). “Why is it nec­es­sary to hurt them — to hurt res­i­dents and busi­nesses?”

Adding their voices of op­po­si­tion from their re­spec­tive con­stituents to the pro­posed Kings High­way SBS are Re­pub­li­can State Sen­a­tor Marty Golden, State Sen­a­tor Sim­cha Felder, City Coun­cil­man Mark Treyger and Assem­bly­man Steven Cym­browitz

On nar­rower blocks of Kings High­way, the DOT plan would re­pur­pose 134 park­ing spots for bus lanes that will be in ef­fect on week­days from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Out­side of those times, the curb would still be re­served for car stor­age.

In a March 8th let­ter to DOT Com­mis­sioner Polly Trot­ten­berg, Sen­a­tor Golden op­posed the con­ver­sion of park­ing spots into rush hour bus lanes on a pro­posed B82 SBS route. He wrote that it would re­sult in “less shop­ping” and cause “per­ma­nent dam­age to re­tail­ers and busi­nesses.”

Ac­cord­ing to Margie Bi­jou of the Kings High­way Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion, the DOT has ad­vised “our elected of­fi­cials that they would not place any me­tered park­ing on the side streets in front of res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties. That is cur­rently their pol­icy. The DOT has not yet con­firmed whether that is a law or just pol­icy. As such, there is no de­fin­i­tive in­for­ma­tion avail­able at this time. She added that the re­vised DOT plan does not in­clude new tar­geted load­ing zones for de­liv­ery truck driv­ers. That was some­thing that was ini­tially pro­posed by the DOT (with the place­ment TBD), but it was later re­moved.”

The city has been ban­ter­ing around this pro­posed SBS route for sev­eral years and has called for pub­lic hear­ings. Only un­til re­cently have com­mu­nity board mem­bers taken this is­sue se­ri­ously and have ex­pressed their con­stituents angst about the se­vere con­ges­tion and eco­nomic harm that such a plan would in­volve.

The MTA and the DOT say that they want to make the changes to the B82 lines to im­prove travel times for its 28,000 daily rid­ers who trudge along at an ex­tremely slow pace for a good por­tion of the route.

Ac­cord­ing to pub­lished re­ports, adding SBS along the B82 route is part of a larger plan to ex­pand trans­porta­tion op­tions in south­ern Brook­lyn. A 2009 DOT study found that com­muters in the area stated their de­sire for im­proved cross town bus ser­vice. The MTA is also con­sid­er­ing bring­ing SBS to the B6 route, which runs through Mid­wood on its way from Ben­son­hurst to East New York. The city says the ex­pan­sion will bring rid­ers faster, more re­li­able ser­vice.

In Oc­to­ber of 2017, sev­eral elected of­fi­cials in other bor­oughs of New York City of­fered their plau­dits for Se­lec­tive Bus Ser­vice is the ar­eas that they rep­re­sent.

"Ex­pand­ing NYC Select Bus Ser­vice is ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal, es­pe­cially for res­i­dents in the outer bor­oughs" said Con­gress­man Eliot En­gel. "I am pleased the city will be up­grad­ing more than 21 city routes, in­clud­ing the Bx9, Bx28, and Bx38 lines in the Bronx."

"We have seen what a great im­prove­ment SBS has made in the lives of the com­muters on cur­rently ex­ist­ing lines," said Con­gress­woman Carolyn Maloney. "Thanks to SBS, New York­ers can get where they are go­ing faster and more re­li­ably. I am thrilled that Mayor de Bla­sio and the DOT are ex­pand­ing SBS to more lines in my district."

"Our mass tran­sit sys­tem is the lifeblood of our city and the in­vest­ments we make in it are crit­i­cally im­por­tant for our vi­tal­ity and eco­nomic growth," said Con­gress­man Joe Crow­ley. "Select Bus Ser­vice is a cost-ef­fec­tive op­tion that re­duces travel times and in­creases con­nec­tiv­ity for thou­sands of New York­ers. I'm thrilled to see the pro­gram ex­pand to reach even more rid­ers, while meet­ing the needs of count­less com­mu­ni­ties. I thank DOT and the MTA for col­lab­o­rat­ing on this ini­tia­tive to en­sure New York­ers are able to get where they need to go, when need to get there."

"Buses are no­to­ri­ously slow and un­re­li­able, and the con­se­quences are se­vere: when we sur­veyed bus rid­ers this sum­mer, we heard from peo­ple who missed work, lost wages, and some­times even lost jobs be­cause of poor bus ser­vice," said John Raskin, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the Rid­ers Al­liance.

"But Select Bus Ser­vice works: rid­ers know it from ex­pe­ri­ence and the data shows it's true. It's time to ap­ply lessons from the suc­cess­ful Select Bus Ser­vice ex­per­i­ment to the rest of the city. We need more SBS routes. We need more im­prove­ments on lo­cal routes that serve hun­dreds of thou­sands of rid­ers. We should work to make buses mod­ern, con­ve­nient and at­trac­tive to rid­ers, so peo­ple who have given up on buses will come back. Thanks to Mayor de Bla­sio and the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion for tak­ing this im­por­tant step of com­mit­ting the City to im­prov­ing bus ser­vice for hun­dreds of thou­sands of rid­ers in the com­ing years."

Com­mu­nity lead­ers, a bevy of elected of­fi­cials, a con­glom­er­a­tion of re­tail shop own­ers and a large per­cent­age of pub­lic trans­porta­tion rid­ers in the Kings High­way area of Brook­lyn are up in arms over a pro­posal by the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion to ini­ti­ate Se­lec­tive Bus Ser­vice on the B82 bus route.

Call­ing the pro­posed SBS on Kings High­way ill ad­vised, Brook­lyn Coun­cil­man Chaim Deutsch said, “This plan will re­move over 100 park­ing spots dur­ing peak hours – and lo­cal stores will be the ones that suf­fer, as cus­tomers choose to shop else­where. Peo­ple who use their cars to come to the shop­ping dis­tricts will have a more dif­fi­cult time find­ing park­ing and they will be dis­cour­aged from com­ing there.”

MTA Chair­man Joe Lhota, con­sulted with Brook­lyn lead­ers on this is­sue

Assem­bly­man Steven Cym­browitz is op­posed to the Ex­press Bus plan

Elaine Lan Chao is the 18th and cur­rent United States Sec­re­tary of Trans­porta­tion

New York City Coun­cil for the 44th district Kal­man Ye­gar

City Coun­cil­man Mark Treyger

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