Call it their subway platform.
Straphangers and pols are demanding the Metropolitan Transportation Authority provide shuttle busses as it closes seven Brooklyn N train stations for two years of upgrades. Transit officials closed the stations’ Manhattan-bound platforms for 14 months on Jan. 18 and plan on closing Coney Island-bound stations for 14 months in 2017.
Gravesend commuters who get to the city via the line’s Kings Highway, Avenue U, or 86th Street stations will have to double-back to Stillwell Avenue to catch a Manhattan-bound train, adding as many as three stops to their morning commutes, and the transit authority should make up for the inconvenience by at least providing busses, one stranded straphanger said.
“Put in shuttle buses, or express buses, or something,” said Gail Bartone, who catches an N to the city at Kings Highway every morning. “And make it free, because we’re being inconvenienced.”
Assemblyman Bill Colton (D–Bensonhurst) collected petition signatures outside the station demanding transit officials provide shuttle buses last week. Elderly folks who rely on Manhattan-bound service need a better option, he said.
“A senior citizen can’t go all the way to Stillwell Avenue and back — or walk up to Bay Parkway from here,” he said at the Kings Highway station. “It’s a big, negative impact on their lives. If they are going to shut down a service they have an moral and legal obligation to provide an alternative.”
Buses could run to neighboring F, Q, or D stations — or follow the N train’s route, he said. The latter scheme would allow commuters at stations like King’s Highway, which is just one stop closer to Coney Island than the still-open Bay Parkway station, to take a short ride there instead of a longer ride down to Stillwell Avenue and back, Colton said.
The buses could also ease potential bottlenecking at the open Manhattan-bound platforms, Colton said. N trains are already more crowded than the citywide average during rush hour, and commuters wait about a minute and a half longer for trains than the citywide average, according to the Straphangers Campaign.
The authority would not comment on the possibility of shuttle buses, and a spokesman said it would respond to Colton directly. The agency was not receptive to Community Board 11’s suggestion it provide shuttle buses when it presented the station-closure plan in September, according to the district manager, who said the authority was skimping at riders’ expense.
“It’s probably a cost issue — they’re thinking of their bottom line and not taking into consideration the needs of the community,” Marnee Elias-Paiva said.
The transit authority set aside $395 million to overhaul seven of the eight stations between the Eighth Avenue and Stillwell Avenue. Workers will replace platforms, repair canopies and columns, rehab entranceways, install new public address systems, and restore historic decorative elements, plans show.
The work inconvenient, but it is also necessary, Elias-Paiva said.
“We’ve received complaints of leaking walls, mold, stairs crumbling — it’s all very much needed,” she said. “We said it over and over — there’s going to be a tremendous amount of disruption to people traveling, but they desperately need these upgrades.”
Workers cannot complete repairs on active stations, so officials decided to suspend service in one direction at multiple stations simultaneously and finish them all in one swoop, an authority engineer said in September.