To B37 or not to B37 — it’s really not much of a question

The Brooklyn Paper
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Seniors don’t use the subway!

That was the message on Saturday of more than 60 Bay Ridge residents who protested the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plan to eliminate the B37 bus, which links the neighborhood to Downtown Brooklyn.

The MTA says that the bus line, which runs along the Third Avenue shopping and dining corridor on its way Downtown, is lightly used and duplicates service provided along Fourth Avenue by the R train.

And besides, the Third Avenue portion of the B37 would be replaced by a rerouted B70, the bus line that currently runs along Eighth Avenue between the Veterans Administration hospital and the 36th Street subway junction in Sunset Park. From there, passengers can take subways to Downtown or even to Manhattan.

But that’s not good enough, say neighborhood’s senior citizens, who prefer to take a bus to Downtown because they can’t get up and down subway stairs.

“The preponderance of seniors in the area can’t take the subway,” said senior advocate Jane Kelly, “so it’s really not an alternative.”

Not one subway station in Bay Ridge is handicapped accessible, Kelly pointed out, and even when the 86th Street station is finally redone, it will not have an elevator.

Peter Killen, the executive director of the Bay Ridge Consumer Federation, said that if the MTA can’t afford to run the bus day and night, it should at least provide service in the mornings and late afternoons, when old-timers who are unable to use the subway tend to travel Downtown.

“Just give us some bus service,” he demanded.

The rally was organized by Assemblywoman Janele Hyer-Spencer, who said the turnout “showed that we will not let the MTA take away this lifeline to our community without a fight.”

That “lifeline” is used by just 3,197 people on the average workday — making it the 158th busiest bus line in a system that only has 194 routes, MTA statistic show.

Eliminating the B37, part of a restructuring of other lines in the neighborhood, would save $2.8 million per year, the agency added.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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