Bay Ridge residents and their political leaders rallied on Monday against proposed Metropolitan Transit Authority service cuts that will slice across the neighborhood far deeper than elsewhere in the city, they said.
About 50 people, brought together by Councilman Vince Gentile (D-Bay Ridge) and state Sen. Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge), gathered at 88th Street and Third Avenue along the B37 route, one of the community’s arteries that the MTA would sever entirely to help plug a $383-million budget shortfall.
The line starts at Fort Hamilton and runs up Third Avenue to Flatbush Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn. It is one of the slowest buses in the city, according to the Straphangers Campaign. It is also the 156th busiest bus route out of 194 in the city, with a daily ridership of 3,524 people, according to MTA stats. By comparison, the city’s busiest bus line, the M1 in Manhattan, has 56,723 riders per day.
That said, the B37 has its fans.
“The B37 is southwest Brooklyn’s lifeline,” said Gentile, who rallied the troops in similar fashion when a prior round of cuts was announced roughly this time last year. “Don’t leave us out in the cold! We’re going to turn the heat up on the MTA!”
Golden, whose job in Albany presumably affords him more power over the state transit agency than Gentile’s position at City Hall, announced a petition drive to assist that effort.
The MTA proposal also includes cutting the B16 (the 111th busiest line), B4 (the 127th), X27 and X28 on the weekends, a move that would affect residents from Bay Ridge to Bensonhurst. The R train is nearby, but Gentile said that many seniors and disabled residents do not ride the subway.
Borough-wide, the cuts would include reduced service along the A, D, F, G, N, Q, J and M trains, along with another handful of bus routes and the Access-A-Ride service. The transit agency has also threatened to eliminate half fares for students.
If no arm of government ponies up at the 11th hour, the cuts will take effect in spring. But a Gentile spokeswoman thinks that coordinated efforts could pressure the MTA.
“The opposition is part of what deterred the MTA from making these cuts last year,” said Dena Libner, the spokeswoman.