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Park Slope Civic Council rallies to revive b71 bus service

Up-route: Slopers want to bring the B71 bus back to life

The Brooklyn Paper
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Call it a zom-bus!

A confederation of civic-minded Park Slopers is plotting to resurrect a cross-town bus service between the Columbia Street Waterfront District and Crown Heights that the transit authority axed five years ago amidst budget cuts.

The group says business along the old B71 bus line has boomed in the intervening years, but straphangers now are stranded from visiting many of the new hot spots.

“There’s much more commercial and residential activity along the route,” said Michael Cairl, trustee of the Park Slope Civic Council, which unveiled a road map for bringing the service back to life last Wednesday. “You look at the new restaurants on Columbia Street, you look at how hot Franklin Avenue is, and you see the lack of service to those areas.”

The Metropolitan Transit Authority put the brakes on the B71 bus in 2010 when it slashed several services along subway and bus lines to plug its then-$400 million budget gap.

But riders and borough pols successfully petitioned the transit body last year to reawaken the B37 Bay Ridge-to-Barclays bus — another casualty of the cuts — and now the Slope civic is hoping to perform some necromancy of its own.

The old B71 service was notoriously unreliable, say the Slopers, and the authority ultimately sacrificed it due to low ridership. But the would-be resurrectionists claim they can fix both problems by redrawing and extending the route to avoid traffic jams and hit more local attractions

The original bus, which mainly ran along Union Street and Eastern Parkway between Columbia Street in the titular Waterfront District and Sterling Place in Crown Heights, hit major traffic on Union Street below Seventh Avenue and on Eastern Parkway, say the Slopers.

But the reanimated service would detour around both traffic-clogged arteries and also travel farther on both ends of the line under the civic’s plan — Carroll-Gardens-bound buses would hang a right at Columbia Street and keep going to the Pier 6 entrance to Brooklyn Bridge Park, and Crown-Heights-bound fares would continue to Kingston Avenue then loop around to pass the Brooklyn Children’s Museum on Brooklyn Avenue.

The Slope society also believes the B71’s service hours, which ended at 9 pm, left the dinner crowd out in the cold, and want the resuscitated line to run until 11:30 pm.

But much like the old B71, the group is in no rush to roll out. The members will first attempt to get other like-minded civic associations on board with their proposal, then seek endorsements from local community boards and elected officials, before finally delivering their demands to the Metropolitan Transit Authority, said Cairl.

“The strategy for this is very carefully devised,” he said. “We don’t want a half-baked proposal ending up before the elects. We want this to be thought out and have considerable support before they see it.”

But not everyone is thrilled at the prospect of the B71’s return from the grave — one business owner along the defunct route said a new bike lane on Eastern Parkway is already backing-up traffic and a bus would make things even worse.

“I think that a bus on this route would be terrible,” said restaurateur Cilan Toturkul, owner of El Barrio Burritos on Franklin Avenue between Eastern Parkway and Lincoln Place. “I do want to see more people coming through, but a bus is more negative than positive.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Gary Reilly from Carroll Gardens says:
The loss of the B71 was a major blow to mobility in the area - this is a worthy effort by Michael Cairl and the PSCC: not just to restore what we had, but to make it better.

I have no doubt that other local civics will get on board.
Oct. 7, 2015, 9:01 am
busrider from brooklyn says:
Thank you for your work on this issue, Mr. Cairl. This bus route is sorely missed. I wonder if there's a way to increase the frequency over the twice an hour we used to have.

Of course, the main problem that all the business owners are worried about is too many cars, which have long been a problem on Union, especially east of 7th Ave. Perhaps there's a way way to make Union one way for that stretch? At any rate, it's a wise idea to have the bus skip that section of Union.

Finally, I don't know what the anonymously quoted gentleperson is talking about regarding the "new" bike lane on Eastern Parkway. That is one of the oldest bike lanes in the city, plus it's in the median. If you are worried about traffic there, you are worried about too many cars.
Oct. 7, 2015, 9:10 am
Yvette Dixon from Crown Heights says:
I truly miss the 71 Bus, it is reallty inconvenient now trying to get to my doctors on plaza street. I was also able to take the 71 and connect with the bus that goes down 7th avenue to get to Methodist Hospital, now I have to take the train to Grand Army and pick up a bus from there, or shuttle over and get the c to the F at Borough Hall and take the F to seventh avenue, which is very inconvenient. Pls. consider bringing the 71 back up Eastern pkwy. Thanks!
Oct. 7, 2015, 9:34 am
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from Southside, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, United States says:
What was unique about the former B71 Bus route was it serves many neighborhoods while saving a lot of travel time without even required to take multiple transfers on the New York City Subway. In addition, it serves a lot of arts and educational centers for a one-seat ride. P.S. I am a member of a transit advocacy group known as the Riders Alliance, a grassroots organization that gears up many subway and bus riders in New York City on any public transportation issue in New York City, from the community level,MTA the city level, to the state level. Furthermore, the Riders Alliance is working with elected officials, creating events and rallies for press, as well as demanding the MTA for better service such as bringing back the B23 as well as B71 Buses. Also, to address this concerns to the Riders Alliance, go to ridersny.org for more information and go to "What's Your Campaign?" section or you can send them an email message @ info@ridersny.org. These staff members will help you out with your issue.
Oct. 7, 2015, 10:08 am
vera from cobble hill says:
i miss this bus too. i would take this to get to the library at GAP, the B41 too crowded. and i wish they would bring back 75 cause the 57 is tooo darn slow.
Oct. 7, 2015, 10:17 am
Lisa from Cobble Hill says:
When the B71 and B75 were discontinued, I lost my easy access to Park Slope and Prospect Park. I no longer visit my favorite shops in the slope, and the park is just too much of a schlep on the subway.
Oct. 7, 2015, 10:27 am
Yes to B71 from Columbia Waterfront says:
It would be great to have something in addition to the B61 to get out of the neighborhood. Bring it on!
Oct. 7, 2015, 12:55 pm
Clemintime Pooter from Park Slope says:
I don't take the bus, so I'm unsure. I'm not against it, but maybe I am.
Oct. 7, 2015, 2:49 pm
Paco from Prospect Lefferts Gardens says:
I too miss the B71 and think it served a need that the subway lines do not. I am curious the thinking of this new proposed route as it seems to wisely avoid many traffic jams but also adds so many turns - especially left hand turns that often have blind spots for buses - and so I am curious if the circuitous route proposed is safe enough for the streets.
Oct. 7, 2015, 5:09 pm
Anne from Carroll Gardens says:
I miss this bus so much! I could take it straight to Fifth Ave, Seventh Ave, Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Museum, the main branch of the library, the farmers market at Grand Army Plaza, etc. Now I have to take three trains to get to the museum. I would love to see it come back. It seems to me they cut service so much so people would stop using it and they could justify eliminating it. And it ended so early that you often got stuck going back from any evening activity.
Oct. 7, 2015, 6:46 pm
AM Goodridge from prospect Hts&Crown Hts tenant union says:
its about time people in the GHETTOZ/working class/middle class/west Indians/ immigrants & activists in their communities to wake up/fight back then take back against the MTA & tell the state legislatures/the mayor & council speaker M. Mark-viverito to tax the rich/the big phat cats& greedy banks to pay their fair share to restore all bus lines that being hit by the 2010 service cuts we cant not go back to the bad times of the 1970s&80s. the people in the neighborhoods from crown heights, park slope, gowanus, cobble hill, carroll gardens, boerum hill, prospect heights &/south Brooklyn had been wait for the B71 bus for 5 years since 6/27/10 its take us to shops, to schools, to local business, to get healthcare @ clinics/doctors & hospitals, churches & cultural sites/farmers markets at grand army plaza & outside PS 58 on carroll street on the weekends. service operation 5am-10pm weekdays, 7am-10pm on weekends both ways bring this info to local business & bulletin boards ASAP
Oct. 7, 2015, 8:48 pm
TOM MURPHY from Sunset Park says:
Michael: Be careful what you ask for with the MTA. The B37 was not fully restored as requested. It does not go to Downtown Brooklyn, a job center, only as far north as the Barclay Area. Also it is not 24/7. It stops at 11PM. Great for going to an event and to go back to the new hotels in Sunset Park, but not entirely reliable for that late night out. Good if you live in Bay Ridge and got a job in Industry City or Gowanus. Of course so is the R train.
Emphasize the home to work travel need.
Oct. 7, 2015, 9:14 pm
Sasi from Carroll gardens says:
Bring it back!
Oct. 8, 2015, 9:28 am
Jon from Park Slope says:
I don't think this dream goes big enough. Let's imagine a modern trolley like those in Portland, Oregon and other progressive cities. Imagine picking it up in Brooklyn Bridge Park, riding along Columbia Street then up Union to Grand Army Plaza then on Eastern Parkway to Utica and back. With the low usage the B71 had, MTA won't bring it back. As long as we're dreaming… let's dream bigger!
Oct. 8, 2015, 2:55 pm
Michael Ring from Park Slope says:
This is fantastic. And I'm really happy it's going to avoid Union Street between seventh Avenue and Prospect Park, on its way towards Prospect Park. This way it will not add to the current gridlock that exists every afternoon.

Since this route had very low usage maybe the MTA would consider using full-size vans instead of giant buses. That way the people who use it would get to use it and that be much less of an impact on the planet.
Oct. 10, 2015, 9:06 am
Andrea from Columbia St. Waterfront says:
The "crosstown" B71 was absolutely a valuable route and should now be considered even more important, considering the influx of visitors to Brooklyn Bridge Park. But please, it should run every 15 minutes, not just twice an hour, and it should run till at least midnight.
Oct. 10, 2015, 9:28 am
Hold them accountable from CB6 district says:
Political Opportunity?

The decision to eliminate the line came under out former councilman, Bill deBlassio, and what did he do to prevent that action?

Then in 2010, at Brad's first community forum, people packed in to express opposition to the cancelation of the B71 line. Brad told everyone at that meeting that the MTA made the decision and that there was nothing that could be done to reverse it (in other words, there was nothing that he was going to do to reverse the decision). But seeing the vocal support for the bus line, Brad later held a rally at Union and Smith as a wonderful photo op to show he was with the vocal community--but no action was ever taken.

Now he want to make this his political issue again? They have since demolished all the bus-stop kiosks along the route, and all other key infrastructure and route mapping have been wiped out, thus driving up the costs to reinstitute the bus line.

Yes we need the B-71 line, but we also need our elected officials to be accountable for their roll--or lack of--that has created a more costly, and more difficult situation. And if our city council, the group that rights the laws we live by in this city, don't feel there is enough reasonable opportunity for community and local councilmen to effect local MTA decisions, then they should have been working at fixing that.
Oct. 12, 2015, 11:58 am
Denise from Cobble Hill says:
The reason I believe ridership was low was due to its lack of frequency. I often found myself taking a car service to go between Cobble Hill and Park Slope because I didn't want to stand outside in the cold for 20 minutes or more. People would use it more if it came more frequently and could be relied upon like some of the other buses in the area.
Oct. 12, 2015, 12:06 pm
Dahiana from Cobble Hill says:
My family and I would go weekly to the Prospect Park Zoo, botanical garden, and park on the B71. We would go daily to the central public library on the B71 BUT ever since the service was discontinued we rarely go to that part of Brooklyn because there is no easy access from Cobble Hill or the water front columbia district. To get there we have to take the B61 to the B63 or take 2 to 3 trains. PLEASE bring back the 71 to make Brooklyn more accessible to the hot spots!
Oct. 18, 2015, 9:57 pm

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