B4 Bus Service Fate Unclear As MTA Ponders Service Improvements

Photo by Allan Rosen

The MTA is poised to unveil a slew of bus and subway service improvements this week, but the fate of the B4 bus line is still uncertain.

With finances at the authority steadily improving, MTA officials are studying service in the five boroughs to determine locations for route enhancements. A Daily News article published today said the agency has $90 million more on hand this year, and may restore devastating cuts made in 2010 to close a budget deficit.

The bulk of the service improvements are expected in Brooklyn and the Bronx – where the cuts were most severe – and the Daily News identifies the B77, B75, B61 and B64 as “top candidate[s] for a service boost.”

The B4 line, though, may not make the short list of restorations.

The Bay Ridge-to-Sheepshead Bay bus line saw a huge chunk of the route axed in 2010, when the agency eliminated service between Ocean Parkway and Knapp Street on weekends and off-peak weekday hours. The MTA will not confirm if Sheepshead Bay is an area they are considering for improvements.

“We’re not confirming or denying any proposed changes until later this week,” said MTA spokesperson Adam Lisberg.

Locals were outraged by the cuts, which eliminated bus access for most Emmons Avenue business patrons and residents – including hundreds of seniors living nearby – for most of the week. In May, approximately 70 residents gathered at a Transportation Town Hall organized by Sheepshead Bites, Transportation Alternatives and Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz to express their concerns and suggest improvements. A petition with more than 2,000 signatures for the restoration of B4 service, gathered by the Sheepshead Bay – Plumb Beach Civic Assocation, was given to elected officials, who heard residents’ concerns and echoed the neighborhood’s demands to the MTA and Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“While I understand the MTA’s financial situation, thousands of residents are stranded without any viable transit option because of the lack of off-peak and weekend B4 service. The B4 is the only public transit link to the rest of the city,” Cymbrowitz wrote in a letter to the authority, also noting that reduced service hurt local real estate prices and businesses. (Full letter below article.)

Lisberg confirmed that the agency had received the letter and petitions, but could not say if it has had any sway on the current discussions of improvement.

“I dont know if there has been a particular response to that letter, those petitions, et cetera, but I know we have been carefully studying areas … to see what neighborhoods we can improve service in,” Lisberg told Sheepshead Bites.

Lisberg, though, is cautioning residents to temper any expectations of route restorations from the 2010 cuts, saying that most improvements will be to adjustments of current routes, not reversals of cuts. Some current lines may see more frequent services, or route extensions into poorly served areas.

“It’s a big differences between simply reversing cuts that were made versus making changes to service that will better serve riders,” Lisberg noted.

Assemblymember Cymbrowitz Demands B4 Restoration