This past Thursday, Feb. 2, representatives from the MTA met virtually with dozens of residents of Community District 8, which consists of Crown Heights, Prospect Heights and Weeksville, to take feedback about proposed changes to bus routes in the neighborhood.
However, the majority of comments regarding the potential changes were critical.
According to the MTA, the changes to the bus network are intended to create more frequent service and improve travel times. The draft had been in progress since 2019, including a pause when the pandemic began.
Virtually no bus route in Community District 8 — or the rest of the 69 Brooklyn bus routes, for that matter — was left untouched in the new draft plan, released Dec. 1, 2022.
One of the ways the MTA proposed to improve travel times was by eliminating some stops, with the goal of getting service to every 10 minutes or less on frequently-used bus lines.
Right now, New York City has the shortest distance between bus stops of any major city, with an average of about 800 feet between each stop. The draft plan gets that closer to about 1,100 feet.
The new plan also avoids narrow streets and turns where possible and prioritizes connections to accessible subway stations, in an effort to reduce delays, according to the MTA.
The draft bus route map already have caused controversy in Bed-Stuy, where bus riders complained of the consolidation of buses on Tompkins and Lewis avenues into one route along Throop Avenue and Marcus Garvey Boulevard.
During Thursday night's workshop, residents of Community District 8 were able to voice their concerns both by speaking directly to MTA representatives and by logging their complaints and recommendations in the virtual forum's chat feature.
One attendee of the workshop, who gave his name as Nathan, questioned the elimination of the B48 connection between the Crown Heights-Prospect Heights area and the Williamsburg-Greenpoint area.
“I regularly ride that bus to Greenpoint, and it feels like the general service from that area to Greenpoint is going to be very much deteriorated, because the B69 doesn’t run as frequently and a transfer would be kind of difficult to make,” he said.
Another resident, Ken Marable, said he recognized the scale of changing the entire Brooklyn bus network, but said the changes can be somewhat confusing and asked for more clarity in the future.
“It’s very difficult to evaluate,” he said. “One bus changes numbers, but it still goes down the same route. Not always, but enough that I’m confused sometimes.”
Crown Heights resident, Karen, said the distance between the stops in the new draft plan is a problem.
“This neighborhood has a lot of seniors and a lot of disabled people as well,” she said. “Definitely making those stops longer apart is going to be a problem.”
She also criticized the decision to shut down certain bus routes after 8:00pm.
“The mall over here at Atlantic doesn’t stop at 8 o’clock at night,” she said. “Target is still open. The supermarkets are still open.”
Another resident, Wilma, used the forum not to criticize the changes in the plan, but to ask that a long-defunct route connecting Prospect Heights and Columbia Heights be brought back.
“It’s long since gone, and now you kind of have to take two buses to get into that area now,” she said.
Julia Neale, a member of Community Board 8, was critical of some of the changes, including the discontinuation of the B49 to Manhattan Beach; that bus line was rerouted to Coney Island instead in the draft plan.
Neale wrote in the chat, “Coney Island has a massive amount of transportation options already, and the B49 to that area is unnecessary."
The process of redrawing the bus map for Brooklyn is far from over. There will be several more forums for Brooklynites to share their thoughts about the bus route redesignthrough March for each of the 10 remaining community districts in the borough.
Residents who couldn't make it to their own neighborhood's meeting can attend one for a different neighborhood, the MTA says.
More information on the community forums, which are held Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30pm and 7:30pm, and the entire bus route draft plan, can be found on the MTA's website here.