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

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.
New York City Council for the 44th district Kalman Yegar

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:

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

    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.”

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.”

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.

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz is opposed to the Express Bus plan

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.

City Councilman Mark Treyger

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.”

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

“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.”

By: Jacob Fishbein

 

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