Day one: Bay Ridge Avenue closure causes nightmare commute

Crammed commuters: Hundreds of Southern Brooklynites packed into buses now that the Bay Ridge Avenue stop is closed for the next six months.
Brooklyn Paper
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Talk about a train wreck!

The 59th Street R-train station was inundated with straphangers during Monday morning’s rush hour now that the Bay Ridge Avenue and the 53rd Street stations are shuttered for six months of construction. Commuters crammed into buses and hoofed it over to the 59th Street station where basically three stations worth of travelers converged. It was a stifling slog, said one straphanger.

“It was like being in a can of sardines,” said Bay Ridgite Julia Campbell, who was one among hundreds of travelers who hopped on the B9 to transfer for the R train at the 59th Street stop. “Everyone got on the bus because we really didn’t have any other options, so then there was a flood of people going into the station at once. I had to wait 20 minutes just to refill my MetroCard.”

Bay Ridge Avenue and 53rd Street are the first of 31 subway stops getting gussied up as part of Gov. Cuomo’s initiative to bring the city’s aging transit system into the 21st Century. The 53rd Street stop closed March 27, followed by Bay Ridge Avenue on April 30 — displacing nearly 16,000 MetroCard users who swipe into the stations on a given weekday, according to Metropolitan Transportation Authority data.

But the authority’s bus division decided that shuttle buses aren’t necessary, and neither is a boost to existing bus lines, including the B9, B37, and B63, according to a transit rep at a Jan. 12 meeting of Community Board 10’s transportation committee. The result was a crush of commuters at 59th Street and sluggish bus service, said one passenger.

“A 12-minute walk to Bay Ridge Avenue turned into a 50-minute bus ride to 59th Street. I could have walked and made it to the train faster,” said Bay Ridgite Jessy Bustos. “The driver had to keep stopping, there were people waiting at every single stop for the bus. And there was a bus in front of us filled with people, too.”

Some straphangers were stuck waiting up to 30 minutes for the B9. Some gave up and started walking over to 59th Street. Others were driven in a school bus from 6–9 am by Council hopeful Liam McCabe, who is gunning for term-limited Vincent Gentile’s (D–Bay Ridge) seat.

Reverend Khader El-Yateem, another Council candidate, held a press conference at a closed Bay Ridge Avenue entrance demanding shuttle buses, ramped up B9 service, and more transparency from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Adding to the chaos were a handful of leftover signs at 59th Street declaring, “Free line closure buses,” that were posted over the weekend when R train service was suspended from 36th Street to 95th Street, but were never taken down, said another frustrated commuter.

“It’s already hectic, why would they keep these signs up?” said Sunset Parker Danny Lopez. “I mean, to be fair it says, ‘Weekends’ is on it but when you’re in a hurry and see in big letters ‘Shuttle bus,’ you’re going to get off the train thinking there is a bus.”

Making matters even more confusing, some B9 buses had makeshift signs in their windows declaring is a “Shuttle bus,” raising more questions than answers for commuters.

“Is this the B9 or a shuttle? Does this mean there’s always going to be a shuttle bus? Does it go all way up to 95th Street?” said Sunset Parker Selma Gerger. “This is just so unnecessarily stressful. I hope it’s not like this the entire time the station is closed.”

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 5:59 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

MJ from Bay Ridge says:
it is impossible for the B9 bus to absorb that many subway riders
May 2, 2017, 7:43 am
John from Bay Ridge says:
HAHAHAHAH!! I FIND THIS HILARIOUS. That's why I do not take subways with the animals
May 2, 2017, 8:35 am
Ms. Me from Bay Ridge says:
This closure has been publicized for months and anyone with common sense doesn't buy the Metrocard on Monday morning. How do these people even have jobs? 53rd street has been closed for a month now and we've heard nary a peep about it.
May 2, 2017, 8:49 am
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from BS, BK, NY, US, formerly WB, BK, NY, US says:
Blame on Governor Cuomo for making his MTA, a state agency, to shut down the chosen stations on a day's notice, making people along the Brooklyn's R train scrambled for alternative public transit options while changing their own everyday morning routine.
May 2, 2017, 11:10 am
Ms. Me from Bay Ridge says:
This closure has been publicized for months, including the closing date and that there would be no shuttle buses.
May 2, 2017, 11:23 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Hat tip to Jackie. McCabe just won the election today, while Brannan is posting nonsense on social media.
May 2, 2017, 11:43 am
dp from Bay Ridge says:
Don't just blame Andrew Cuomo, blame Marty Golden — he made sure the 53rd and Bay Ridge Ave. went to the front of the line for this station rehabilitation.

That being said, the fact that they haven't increased service on the B9 and B37 is unconscionable. Hell, the MTA could contract Citibike to put in temporary sidewalk stations on 5th from 15th Street (where they end currently) to 59th. Anything to try and meet the demand for writers.

McCabe's ploy, while gimmicky, was savvy. Well done to him and to Rev. El-Yateem — meanwhile Brannan's been essentially nowhere.
May 2, 2017, 12:06 pm
MJ from Bay Ridge says:
people in Bay Ridge loves to complain and politicians loves it.
May 2, 2017, 1:45 pm
Ace from Bath Beach says:
1/2 mile to 59th street and the N or the R. The Irish Haven is right there on your way home.
May 2, 2017, 1:49 pm
Marilyn Monroe says:
...... and on Day 2 of the closed Bay Ridge Avenue station, our "heroes" Liam and Elyateem were nowhere to be found! But, no surprise there. Typical politicians just looking for votes and when the cameras leave, they leave. We'll remember this in November.
May 2, 2017, 2:13 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Just because you are Marilyn Monroe, it doesn't mean you get a free ride everyday. Walk the 1/2 mile and keep your figure intact.
May 2, 2017, 3:51 pm
ty from pps says:
they should all get a bike. maybe a tandem bike.
May 3, 2017, 8:17 am
Ms. Me from Bay Ridge says:
What a great idea tyler! The intersection is full of construction equipment, workers and blockades! We also have the B9 turning there. Let's have people riding through on bicycles. Then they can take them on the subway at 59th or 60th street -- where the B9 also makes a turn. Brilliant!
May 3, 2017, 1:12 pm
Tyler from pps says:
What wasn't me commenting above... but riding a bike from your home to a subway station (and reverse in the evening) is a very normal things to do as part of the daily commute. Many many people do it every day.

Such odd people inhabit this city. Jeessh.
May 3, 2017, 2:09 pm
Ms. Me from Bay Ridge says:
Not people for whom it would be simpler just to walk the extra blocks.
May 3, 2017, 8:41 pm
AMH says:
Thanks, Excellency Cuomo!
May 4, 2017, 11:22 am

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