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MTA service cuts make it a Monday from hell

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Mass transit became mass confusion on Monday, as the most severe service cuts to the city’s transit system in 30 years took hold in Brooklyn, where 26 bus lines were restructured or eliminated, a subway line vanished, and service became slower and more crowded.

Riders across the borough endured 90-degree heat as they made a sweaty trudge to new bus stops, where they deciphered new maps, grew frustrated by outdated information, and ultimately threw caution to the wind.

“I’ll take the B61, and hopefully it will work — but I’m not really sure where it goes,” admitted Richard Isaacson, a Park Slope resident who would normally hop on the B71 or B75 at Smith and Ninth streets, but can’t anymore because the two lines were eliminated in an effort by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to close an alleged $800-million budget shortfall.

In Bay Ridge, Linda Burns tried to make sense of the changes.

“They say the reason that this change occurred is because a lot of people in Bay Ridge are upper class and are able to afford cars,” she said. “I personally don’t understand why this is all happening at once. I mean why is it aimed specifically at the groups who are seniors and disabled?”

In Williamsburg, former bus-riders became neophyte straphangers.

With the elimination of the B39, riders like Danny Bruno and his 6-month-old daughter Amena are now forced to take the J train at Marcy Avenue to get to Manhattan.

“It’s terrible to have to take a baby on the subway, with all the stairs and the rude people,” he said. “It’s much easier to take the bus. Now, when I get to Delancey Street, we have to go down stairs, then back upstairs.”

Even those who weren’t taking mass transit blasted the cuts.

The B64 bus used to stop right outside Vinny Galbo’s Bath Beach bakery on Harway Avenue and Bay 50th Street. But service south of 25th Avenue was cut, leaving Galbo without customers — and with a new job.

“I have to go outside every five minutes and tell people that there is no longer a bus stopping here,” he said. It’s like another job all in itself.”

It’s also disappointing considering that all these people paid their taxes, all for what? They deserve everything back the way it was.”

Transit employees tried to help travelers make sense of the changes. “It will be hard for people to break their habits,” said a worker, who declined to give her name as she fielded questions from perplexed commuters at the Smith-Ninth Street F-train station in Carroll Gardens.

“I keep telling people about the changes [to Red Hook’s B77, which was eliminated], but then they ask about where to get on the B77 on their way back — when it’s not there any more!”

Gene Russianoff, staff attorney with the Straphanger’s Campaign, a rider’s advocacy group, said staffers scoured the streets and confirmed the confusion firsthand, with poles displaying extinct or outdated route information, and guide-a-rides stating that a bus was being replaced by another line — but giving no details about its replacement.

“It wasn’t the burning of Atlanta in ‘Gone with the Wind,’ Russianoff said. “It was more like mass confusion that people coped with.”

New York City Transit, the MTA-overseen agency that operates buses and subways, acknowledged the confusion, and admitted that it still had to update bus route information and schedules, and remove outdated bus stops.

“We have several thousand stops to get to in order to change all the guide-a-rides,” the agency said in a statement.

Elected officials said they still plan to have the cuts overturned.

State Sen. Martin Golden (R–Bay Ridge) and Councilman Vince Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) filed a lawsuit last week in State Supreme Court, alleging that the cuts unfairly hurt seniors and disabled residents who rely on the routes.

“They’ve essentially cut seniors and the disabled off from Manhattan, and access to Manhattan isn’t negotiable or expendable,” Gentile said.

Assemblyman William Colton (D-Bensonhurst) blamed the agency’s bookkeepers for commuter woes. “The problem is the MTA has a mountain of waste and they simply can’t control their spending,” he said.

In total, the MTA said the cuts will save it $100 million.

— with Steven Goodstein and Ben Kochman

For a detailed explanation of the changes, go to www.mta.info and click on NYC Transit and click on the “plan ahead” special service notice.

Updated 5:19 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

John from Bayridge says:
The people in charge of the MTA are spoiled, out-of-touch silver spooners who have never ridden the subway or a bus in their lives. Out of the 13 members on the board, only one uses the subway, the others are high-society do-nothings who bullied their way into the position and don't give a damn about cohesive city planning or public transportation. Fun fact: One of the people on the board is multi-millionaire Nancy Shevell, Paul McCartney's girlfriend. I am now deleting all Beatles and Wings songs from my iPod. I will never hear a Paul McCartney song again without being reminded that his girlfriend is dismantling the poor and middle-class in what was once the greatest city in the world.
June 29, 2010, 1:54 am
Sid from Boerum Hill says:
Yep Albany lawmakers file a lawsuit when they refuse to give a fair share of money to the MTA. the method they chose to provide support has fallen hundred of millions of dollars short of what was promised. Albany fiddles and the MTA has to find the money somewhere. The only two thing it controls is spending and the fare itself....
They may be spoiled but that is the only choice they have. Cut spending i.e. jobs and service or raise the fare.
June 29, 2010, 6:27 am
Terry Greiss from Park Slope & Ft. Greene says:
We still have the most extensive subway system in the world and it's relatively cheap. Short of the United States joining the civilized world and properly subsidizing its public transportation systems, (thank you Robert Moses, you jerk!), we either have to use an increased sales tax or an increased fare. Maybe a zone system like DC? It's sad that the MTA is comprised of inept people who cannot manage money and who have such limited vision. Ah well...it's a pedestrian's city.
June 29, 2010, 10:31 am
al pankin from downtown says:
it is just crazy that MTA workers get layed off, bus routes cut, trains eliminated and the MTA still runs the access a ride program which is a medicaid limo service...take a good look at them on the street, they are running around by the dozens almost always empty. no passengers on the bus, just wasting gas, equipment, insurance and drivers. and drivers. this is crazy and should be eliminated before any service cutbacks by the MTA...it's just more waste.
June 29, 2010, 11:15 am
Eddie Mazz from Bay Ridge says:
Sad Fact: Out of your $2.25 Bus of Subway fair about $1.60 actually stay here in the NYC transit system. The rest get lumped into Highway and road projects across the state. Like a small bridge on the New York, Canada border that only 150 people use a day. Albany dose Not want you to know that!
June 29, 2010, 12:27 pm
Dan C from Bay Ridge says:
Bay Ridge always takes the hit. Every time there's an MTA problem, it's Bay Ridge. It was true in the 1970's and it was true in the 1990's. It's not an accident. The reasons are 1) reverse racism, in that Bay Ridge is primarily Caucasian, despite large Asian and Arab populations, and 2) Bay Ridge is historically Republican, although that's not necessarily the case any longer. We're tired of being screwed. Converting the N to a local, making trips to Manhattan last as long as a lifetime, making it impossible to take a bus to downtown Brooklyn...screw you Bloomberg and you Albany.
June 29, 2010, 2:46 pm
Aces from New Utrecht says:
No more buses from Freeport to the Jones Beach Theatre!
June 30, 2010, 12:01 pm
Steven Rosenberg from Park Slope says:
Things need to get much worse to wake up enough people to fix the MTA. Look, you elect socialists and statists to office, you get bloated, inefficient public transit. WHAT DO YOU EXPECT?
June 30, 2010, 5:54 pm
Doug Biviano for Assembly from Brooklyn says:
The Daily News names Joan Millman as one of the legislators who voted to cut $143 million from the MTA in December which resulted in much of the service cuts:

The great train robbery: These pols slashed transit funds then blamed the MTA
http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2010/06/28/2010-06-28__the_great_train_robbery.html

Doug Biviano, on the other hand, has a plan to restore full MTA service with NO tax or fare hikes and NO additional debt:

http://bivforbrooklyn.com/news/100-plan-to-restore-full-mta-service-with-no-fare-or-tax-hikes
June 30, 2010, 10:54 pm
mike from Bklyn says:
at least we have good old fashioned entertainment with all the characters that ride the subway everyday, like peopleofthemta.com
June 30, 2010, 11:11 pm
TOM from SUNSET PARK says:
Its time to buy a car & leave NYC.
July 1, 2010, 12:11 pm
jade from east village says:
Albany and the MTA have been failing us for decades. But these service slashes were worst ever. Cuts in the '70's weren't this bad. Drivers were laid off and riders are screwed.
The M21 bus I take to work used to only run every half hour. As of 6/27/10 ALL weekend service was cut. There are NO M21 buses at all. I have to walk a mile to work. We all need to contact our legislative reps and let them know this is not o.k.
July 13, 2010, 1:55 pm

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