A direct bus ride between Red Hook and Lower Manhattan has been widely touted as a solution to the neighborhood’s poor access to mass transit — but the fix won’t happen unless the new subway fare hike creates enough revenue, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said this week.
The fare hike package approved late last month did include a proposal to extend the B77 bus, which now meanders between Park Slope and Red Hook, to South Ferry through the Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel. As part of the same proposal, the B71, now connecting Crown Heights with Cobble Hill, would also go to South Ferry.
But neither $4.1-million proposal will move forward until the MTA assesses its finances in the spring.
The MTA finished 2007 with a $500-million surplus, but it has often balked at taking on higher operating costs because it is saddled with billions in debt from borrowing during Gov. Pataki’s administration, and predicts budget deficits in the coming years, said New York City Transit spokesman James Anyansi.
While the MTA looks for money, public transit continues to be the bane for Red Hook residents. For many, Lower Manhattan is visible from their homes, yet getting there has required multiple bus and subway transfers.
“We need it,” said Thomas Lubrin, while he waited for the B77 on a recent Friday. “I have to leave my house very early in the morning.”
Not surprisingly, the idea of a straight shot to Manhattan sounded good to others waiting for the bus on Ninth Street.
“It would be convenient,” said Jackie Crowell.
If buses are not routed into Manhattan, Red Hook commuters will have an even longer trip when the Smith–Ninth Street subway station is closed for nine months in 2010 as part of the extensive rehabilitation of the F line between Carroll Street and Fourth Avenue.