Bensonhurster starts Ridge-to-Manhattan bus service

Ralph Kramden incarnate: Bensonhurst bus driver James King is launching a Bay Ridge express bus into Manhattan for transit-starved Ridgites.
Brooklyn Paper
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Bang, zoom — straight to Manhattan!

A Bensonhurst bus driver is launching an express service for Bay Ridgites who are fed up with the R train and sick of forking over a small fortune each week to ride Metropolitan Transportation Authority express buses into Manhattan. The service, Four Hearts Transportation, will put rubber to road in March and is geared toward riders who are looking for more of an experience than a mere morning commute, according to the modern-day Ralph Kramden behind the wheel.

“I want to be part of the people’s routine. When they come on the bus they’ll see a friendly face everyday,” said James King, who drives school buses by day and also drives visitors to the Upstate Correctional Facility in Malone, NY, for conjugal visits. “If you give people a good ride, make them feel comfortable. They’ll come back.”

A one-way ride on King’s line will cost $5 — compared to $6.50 for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s express bus — and a weekday commuter book that will run Ridgites $40 with the fifth day of rides free.

King expects to lure customers with the prospect of a cheaper ride, he said.

“It’s all about giving people an affordable, reliable alternative,” he said. “The people out here just want something to can call their own.”

Bay Ridge has two Manhattan-bound express buses run by the transit authority — the X27 to downtown Manhattan and the X37 to midtown.

King’s route — inspired by the now-defunct Metro Apple Express — will start at 97th and Third Avenue, wind through Brooklyn (making stops along the way), speed into the financial district, and wrap up in midtown. King will pick up straphangers along the route starting at 7:50 am and return the way he came starting at 5:20 pm, he said.

His flagship engine is a 1985 General Motors bus with fire-engine red pleather upholstery and a sleek, silver paint job. The bus is registered with the city and undergoes safety inspections every six months — the most recent inspection was Feb. 7. King bought the set of wheels up in Massachusetts, where it ran as a campus shuttle for the University of Massachusetts, and restored the dilapidated bus to its former glory.

“She needed some love, so I fixed her up,” said King. “She has that old-school vibe. It makes people stop and take a peak. The looks on their faces are just unbelievab­le.”

But the service isn’t just an excuse to get Ridgites cruising in ’80s style. King’s father was a Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus driver for a handful of decades, and running a bus service is one way to preserve his memory, said King.

“This is how I keep my dad’s spirit alive,” he said. “I’m a sentimental knucklehead when I want to be.”

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from BS, BK, NY, US says:
This photo was nostalgic because he got one of the "futuristic" Rapid Transit Series Buses, which was been around since the mid-90s. Anyway, is his service was regulated by the DOT? Did he get a commercial bus license to drive this?
Feb. 10, 2017, 5:52 am
VLM from Park Slope says:
I hope this guy succeeds, but at those prices, he's going to fail. He can't compete with the heavily subsidized MTA - which loses money on express bus routes even with a $6.50 fare. Good luck though.
Feb. 10, 2017, 9:39 am
Jesse from NYC says:
I appreciate this guy's entrepreneurial spirit but what does this say about the state of public transportation in this city. Private, unregulated buses is something you see in cities all over the third world where they lack proper investment in mass transit. It's not something you're supposed to see in rich world-class cities.
Feb. 10, 2017, 10:09 am
Tyler from pps says:
Still not sure I understand the purpose of the so-called "Express Buses" that are slower than the subway and cost over 2X as much.

Are they packed full? (If not, that seems like an obvious way to cut costs at the MTA. Let Mr. King and friends take care of this niche market and put the money into the subway.)
Feb. 10, 2017, 10:23 am
AMH says:
One takes a look, or a peek, not a peak.
Feb. 10, 2017, 11:37 am
boof from brooklyn says:
I would take a peak if I could get one.
Feb. 10, 2017, 12:32 pm
paci from brooklyn says:
MTA is a semi private organization. We have so many building going up and the infrastructure can't handle more people and MTA with over crowded trains and delays, wants to make a BIG profit. I care about getting to work safe and a reasonable price. Cudoos to Mr. King
Feb. 10, 2017, 12:50 pm
Josh from Manhattan says:
Pedro, the article said he drives a school bus, so he must already have the appropriate CDL.
Feb. 10, 2017, 1:47 pm
Josh from Manhattan says:
Paci, MTA make a profit? What are you talking about? Semiprivate? What? You can dislike them or disagree with them, but you really shouldnt make things up. It makes YOU look bad instead of them.
Feb. 10, 2017, 1:53 pm
Tyler from pps says:
Josh - I'm sure Paci also believes that the Federal Reserve Bank is run by the Illuminati.
Feb. 10, 2017, 2:12 pm
Suna from Bay Ridge says:
This sounds great for me.
Feb. 10, 2017, 9:33 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
@Jesse from NYC, Well said.
Feb. 11, 2017, 9:41 am
old time brooklyn from slope says:
Good luck,.

The academy busses of days gone by were great as they rany from early morning until about 10 pm
Feb. 11, 2017, 11:25 am
James from Bensonhurst says:
My dad used to ride the metro apple express bus back in the day.

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Feb. 11, 2017, 12:05 pm
paci from Brooklyn says:
Tyler- you are playing too many video games. Go out and get exercise. Read below. Josh read below

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is a public benefit corporation responsible for public transportation in the U.S. state of New York,

New York state public benefit corporations and authorities operate like quasi-private corporations, with boards of directors appointed by elected officials, overseeing both publicly operated and privately operated systems. Public authorities share characteristics with government agencies, but they are exempt from many state and local regulations. Of particular importance, they can issue their own debt, allowing them to bypass limits on state debt contained in the New York State Constitution. This allows public authorities to make potentially risky capital and infrastructure investments without directly putting the credit of New York State or its municipalities on the line. As a result, public authorities have become widely used for financing public works, and they are now responsible for more than 90% of the state's debt. The growing influence of public authorities over state and local financing, coupled with their ability to avoid regulations applicable to government agencies, has led to calls for reform. Some reforms were passed in the Public Authorities Accountability Act of 2005.[1]
Feb. 22, 2017, 10:49 am

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