My Proposed Bus Route Changes For Sheepshead Bay and Adjacent Neighborhoods: Part 1 Of 2

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THE COMMUTE: Above is the map I created showing my proposed bus routing changes for Southern Brooklyn. Yesterday, I discussed why changes are needed in Sheepshead Bay and surrounding neighborhoods — to build ridership on our bus routes, so that the MTA does not continue on its destructive path of cutting service and severing bus connections, as I discussed at the recent NYC Bus Riders’ Forum. There is untapped demand, yet the MTA refuses to acknowledge this, wanting us to believe that buses are only necessary to reach subway stations, so many routes — especially the ones with light patronage — can be discontinued inconveniencing just a few.

They do this by distorting the effects a route’s discontinuation will have, always citing alternate nearby routes that could be used, even if they are not practical. They do not understand the role that the bus can play in our mass transit system. They do not recognize that many seniors are not able to walk stairs to use the subway system because few stations are handicapped accessible. They are so shortsighted that they do not recognize that fewer and shorter bus routes, or routes that do not operate on weekends, will only drive up the cost of providing Access-A-Ride. There is a deficit that has to be plugged and the best way to do that is to reduce operating costs by cutting service. That is the extent of their thinking.

Now is the time to show them they are wrong and that more needs to be done — that they need to start thinking about expanding bus service. Now is the time to recognize untapped demand that has always existed, that the MTA is not aware of because they keep zero statistics on the number of trips that can only be conveniently made by car service.

The Proposals

1) New Bus Route To The Rockaways (Q51): Outside of Staten Island, residents of the Rockaways probably have the longest mass transit trip times in New York City. A proposal has been floating around for the last 40 years to reactivate the abandoned portion of the Rockaway Beach line and has only recently gained momentum with the talk of a new convention center at the Aqueduct Racetrack site. That proposal would dramatically cut travel times to Midtown Manhattan. But what does that have to do with us and why should we care?

It is because those living in Roxbury, Breezy Point, Belle Harbor, and Neponsit have only two ways of accessing the rest of the city by mass transit: a long bus ride to the A train in Rockaway Park or the Q35 bus to the 2 and 5 trains at the Flatbush Nostrand Junction. Few trips between Brooklyn and the Rockaways can be made with two buses. Most require three or more buses and a double fare.

If there were a route from the Rockaways to Sheepshead Bay Station that operated along Knapp Street and Emmons Avenue, two additional subway lines would be available for their use and new travel opportunities would be created. More importantly for us, there would be enough patronage generated to justify a bus every 10 minutes from Plumb Beach to Sheepshead Bay Station both on weekdays and 15-minute (or more frequent) service on weekends. It would be a boost to businesses along Emmons Avenue, including the UA Theater, and also make it much easier to access the nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the area.

However, as with any change, there is always a downside. The B4 would have to terminate at Sheepshead Bay Station at all times it operates because extending the B4 to the Rockaways would just make the route too long and unreliable. The MTA also would have to restore its policy that service changes will not result in extra fares. Merely hoping that the B4 service will become more frequent or that the MTA will restore weekend service is only wishful thinking as long as the MTA remains in its budget crunch.

There is also the alternative of restoring the B4 to Knapp Street when it operates, and to operate the proposed Q51, also at 20-minute intervals. The downside of that plan is that if the B4 does not attract enough riders to be sustainable at a frequency of every 20 minutes, it may also not be attractive enough to Rockaway residents. However, Plumb Beach residents would still see a combined headway of 10 minutes to Sheepshead Bay Station under that alternative.

2) Extend The B31: My next proposal is to get Gerritsen Beach out of its mass transit prison by extending the B31 beyond the Brighton line into Bensonhurst. Not only would B31 ridership be boosted off-hours by offering additional connections to the B68, B6, B8 and B64, a service gap — or as Transportation Alternatives calls it, “a transit desert” — between Avenue N and Kings Highway and between 60th Street and Bay Ridge Parkway in Bensonhurst would be filled. The extended B31 would operate along Avenue P and 65th Street to 12th Avenue and Bay Ridge Avenue where it would connect with the B64 for trips further west, providing a needed boost to that route’s ridership. In order to minimize additional costs, speed trips, and make the idea palatable to the MTA, I am proposing limited stops only at even numbered avenues in Bensonhurst. The B9 is available on 60th Street a quarter-mile away, which will continue to provide local stops every block, so nothing would be taken away.

3) Combine, Reroute And Extend The B2 And B100: These routes currently operate only one block apart for two-thirds of their routes. This situation came into being in the 1960s when Mill Basin was developed with bus service being provided by the Pioneer Bus Corporation instead of the New York City Transit Authority. Neighboring streets to the B2 were used since the city would not allow a private bus company to infringe on the franchises of the New York City Transit Authority. Also, B100 bus stops were placed every quarter-mile rather than at every other block because it was so close to the B2. Times change. Pioneer became Command Bus Corporation and was eventually taken over by the MTA, which also absorbed the New York City Transit Authority.

Today, the MTA operates both routes. The only difference is that New York City Transit, a subsidiary of the MTA, operates the B2, while the Bus Company (also known as MTA Bus) operates the B100. A crucial difference is that New York City subsidizes B100 losses, a requirement imposed by the MTA for taking over the privately operated bus operations several years ago, which were previously subsidized by the city. So when the MTA decides to get rid of one of the routes, which do you think it will choose — the B100, or the B2, which is not directly subsidized?

Also, the B100 provides needed service to Mill Basin whereas the MTA can argue that B2 service is duplicative with its route already covered by the B31 or the B100.

So, instead of waiting for this to happen eventually, which is inevitable with the B2 losing ridership each year, I propose to combine both routes as the B2, using the routing shown on the map. I also would reroute the B2 from Avenue R in Marine Park to Quentin Road to reduce walking distances to the route, boosting ridership by encouraging some B82 and B7 riders to switch. It would be necessary to add service on one block of East 36th Street between Quentin Road and Avenue R. One bus stop would have to be relocated from Avenue R to East 36th Street in front of the same homeowner’s residence.

The downside is that a two-block walk would be required to access Kings Plaza. This would be offset by the fact that walking times for many B2 users would be reduced and there would be minimal impact to B100 users. The choice is to make a proposal to the MTA now or wait for them to come to us with theirs. Additionally, the savings by eliminating one route could go towards the additional cost of extending the B31.

I am also proposing to extend the B2 westward to Coney Island via the current B82 route and cut back the B82 from Coney Island to Kings Highway and Coney Island Avenue. This would provide many additional connections to the B2, greatly increasing the neighborhoods it would serve directly or with a transfer. B82 service would become more reliable with a shortened route the way it originally operated as the B50, and access would not be sacrificed since Bensonhurst residents would still maintain transfers to the B49, B44, B41, B46, Q35, and B47.

Tomorrow: Discussing a proposal to modify the MTA’s 44 Select Bus Service plan and to restore the B64 to Coney Isand.

The Commute is a weekly feature highlighting news and information about the city’s mass transit system and transportation infrastructure. It is written by Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of MTA/NYC Transit Bus Planning (1981).

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  1. I’m taking more buses off Avenue Z than putting in. I’m moving the B4 from Av Z back to Neptune.

  2. btw the q51 designation is alreay assigned to the new alvern- queens center mall ltd route whitch comences this summmers.

  3. I tried Q52 but they are going to use that number also. Guess I have to find another one. Any suggestions?

  4. best of luck getting this approved. although i don’t mind a bus running through quentin road at all! 

  5. I had an idea for the b31/ b 4 east end. how about send the 31 via knapp than  via the b4 to oceanpakway then to stillwell and memnaid via neptune. with is staighten the b68 west brighten to w5 to surf to stillwell.  

  6. I just updated the post with a higher resolution version of the map, which should help you better understand the proposals. Thanks!

  7. My dad was a B4 driver in the 1970’s and 80’s, I learned that Elvis had died when my mom met us on the bus parked on Knapp Street with lunch one day. That is my B4 story; that said, it is terrible that the TA has reduced the B4 service.

  8. I think he’s referring to the Q52. I don’t think there are any plans for a Q51.

  9. You’d give Gerritsen Beach riders a longer ride to the subway (and also a slightly longer ride on the subway itself if they’re going to Manhattan)

  10. I believe it is commercial so there shouldn’t be a problem. R is residential and they accepted it.

  11. It would also help the people along Avenue R. They don’t have to use the bus if they don’t want to but shouldn’t deprive others who might benefit from it.

  12. Wouldn’t it make more sense for the Q51 to go to the Kings Hwy or Ave U train station than Sheepshead Bay?

  13. Not really. Avenue U and Knapp Street are very quick on the portions they are used. Getting to Kings Highway or Avenue U will not be any quicker. Also, Avenue U is very congested west of Nostrand Avenue and it is a local stop. There is also a greater chance of getting a seat at Sheepshead Bay than Kings Highway making it more attractive. And the prime purpose is to provide Plumb Beach with better service to Sheepshead Bay Station and give the Knapp Street area some service shortening the walk to the B36.

  14. For the B100 route, I would actually change it a bit, given that the B100 only makes two stops along Quentin Road: at Nostrand Avenue and then at James Madison HS. I posted it in the “The Commute” thread from yesterday, but it is here again: I would have it use Avenue R to Gerritsen Avenue, but then have it use the B100 route down Fillmore to Flatbush Avenue. Then to maintain service to Kings Plaza, alternating B100 trips on weekdays and Saturdays would then operate down Flatbush Avenue to Avenue U, and serve Kings Plaza, Lowe’s, Walgreen’s, and the Home Depot at B3 stops along Avenue U, then travel to Mill Basin via Avenue U instead of via Avenue T. Over time, the hope is that the variant becomes the full-time service and that Sunday service (when B100 service is every half-hour) is via Avenue U instead of Avenue T.

    As for the B82, that raises another problem…are there a significant number of people who now travel from points west of Coney Island Avenue to points east of Flatlands Avenue? The B82 could have costs saved if half of it could be out of the Ulmer Park Depot; Ulmer Park Depot gave up the B82 (and B8) when the X27 was moved there. Many delays on the B82 are because of the long deadhead for the B82.

    Another one I would do: reroute the B103 to Avenue I instead of Avenue H between Flatlands Avenue and Kings Highway, to fill in an area not easily accessible by transit.

  15. Using Fillmore to to Flatbush from Gerritsen means you still would need the B2 to serve Marine Park since it borders the park and does not serve the area to the north well. The idea is to save costs by getting rid of one without inconveniencing many. As I stated in the other thread, I don’t think serving Kings Plaza for MRine Park residents is that important anymore.

    I really doubt it if B82 riders would be inconvenienced. I really don’t see people going from Bensonhurst to Canarsie, and they still could make the trip with two buses. The important thing is to maintain transfers to the north south routes east of the Brighton line and this plan does that.

    As far as the B103, this i

  16. As far as the B103, since this is SheepsheadBites, let’s leave that one for another time.

  17. 1) The Breezy Point/Neponsit/Belle Harbor end of the Rockaway peninsula is very narrow and very low-density. There is no need for two distinct bus routes over the Marine Parkway Bridge, and your proposed route as a means to reach Manhattan is far more circuitous than the Q35. (You may be viscerally opposed to the Flatbush Avenue IRT terminal, but most people aren’t.) Car ownership rates are very high in western Rockaway, and virtually every western Rockaway resident who needs to get to Brooklyn itself will drive. Your proposed Q51 has practically no market at all, and it certainly can’t support a 10 minute headway. (If Q35 riders truly want access to the Brighton line – and, as far as I know, they really don’t – extend the Q35 west to Newkirk Plaza.)

    2) Gerritsen Beach also has very high car ownership rates. Gerritsen Beach residents want transit access to Manhattan but by and large have no use for transit access to other parts of Brooklyn. Your extended B31 is largely duplicated by the B9, B82, and N train.

    3) As I’ve said, some form of combination is inevitable, and it’s not going to be identical to either current route. But given your strong opposition to the removal of a few limited stops for SBS, I’m surprised that you expect shoppers to walk a third of a mile each way to and from the mall (with all of their bags). I guess you don’t shop at Kings Plaza.

  18. And there’s an even greater chance of getting a seat at Flatbush Avenue!

    If your goal is service between Plumb Beach and Sheepshead Bay, running a 10-mile route (each way) is pretty excessive, don’t you think?

  19. Thank you for your research. 

    I do think that Neptune Ave near Coney Island Ave. needs to have bus service resumed on both sides of CI Ave and for many blocks. Most radical is having a bus on Avenue P. I do not remember a bus line on Avenue P ever. There are businesses on Ave. P between Ocean Parkway and the F stop at McDonald Ave. that would benefit from a bus on Avenue P. 

    There should be some bus line near the theater on Knapp Street and Shore Parkway. How essential is it to have the B36 go down Nostrand Ave. to Avenue U? Could it not continue on Avenue Z and terminate near the theater? Could the B44 not go to the Sheepshead Bay station down Emmons Ave. or Avenue Z continuing the link to the station from Nostrand Ave. between Ave U and Ave Z terminating at the station or at Coney Island Ave? Possibly the B4 could serve Emmons Ave and possibly terminate at Voorhies Ave. and Nostrand Ave. if the B44 were to go to Sheepshead Bay station via Avenue Z.

  20. Allan, How about a combo B1/B3 cross boro limited bus, the B23, from 86 St to Kings Plaza. That would solve the x-boro Q – N – R travel, be faster than the regular local B1 & B3, and hit lots of good transfer points (bus and subway) and commercial strips.

  21. You speak a lot about the needs of areas you have never lived in. I guess if car ownership rates are high, and that says nothing about the father who uses his car for work leaving his wife and teenage kids at home without a car, never have a need to leave their house, and have no need more mass transit. So why don’t we just discontinue all bus service in those areas? Oh wait, the MTA wants to do that anyway if we just sit back and let them destroy the system as they have been doing by severing bus connections increasing the numbers of trips that require three buses and two fares.

  22. That would have to be an additional layer of SBS service, but don’t expect fast trip times under the el on 86th Street. I think Bath Avenue might be a better choice for SBS. The MTA is considering what you suggest as a future SBS route maybe in another 15 years or so at the rate thy are proceeding.

  23. I’m sorry, you don’t know where I’ve lived.

    It’s called mass transit for a reason. Transit agencies have finite budgets, and they should not spend their scarce resources running frequent, expensive services that carry only a few riders. Since money doesn’t grow on trees, where should the MTA obtain the funding to carry out your proposals? Cut service that carries more riders in the other boroughs?

    If you want to start a charity to help support people who aren’t served well by transit but can’t afford car services, be my guest (and I may even contribute).

  24. Then I completely understand why the MTA rejects your suggestions. You engage in fantasy planning, where inconvenient facts can be ignored. Real planning has to take them into account.

  25. The agreements are as follows:
    1.       New Q51 (LIMITED-STOP) bus route between Sheepshead Bay and Rockaway Park is agreed with the only exception is that that Brooklyn terminal should be at Coney Island Terminal (Stillwell Avenue Station). Service to operate 24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week.
    2.       Combining the B2 and B100 routes and extending the B2 (which will terminate at Gerritsen Beach) to Coney Island Terminal (Stillwell Avenue Station) via Kings Highway (see B7 and B82 disagreement).
    3.       Restoring B4 service East of Coney Island Hospital, however service to Knapp Street must continue Full-Time (these residents need direct access to Staten Island bus routes S53, S79 and S93 LIMITED in Bay Ridge). Rush Hour service, buses to operate every 5 minutes.
    4.       Extending the B31 to operate via 65th Street and Avenue P to 12th Avenue/Bay Ridge Avenue. A new LIMITED-STOP SERVICE implemented along the route.
    5.       Extending the B64 bus route to Coney Island Terminal (Stillwell Avenue Station) via Harway Avenue and Stillwell Avenue restoring service to the route.
    The disagreements are as follows:
    1.       Although there is agreement in the B2 replacing the B82 bus route West of the Kings Highway Station to avoid duplicating the B6 bus route, the disagreement is that the B82 must still service Coney Island. I am suggesting that the B7 (route extension) and B82 both terminate at Coney Island Hospital as the new travel path is via Ocean Parkway and the buses loop around Coney Island Hospital.

  26. Thanks for this! I live in Canarsie and take the B82 and I completely agree with the proposed change. But that’s just one of the problems with that line. Another problem is that the B82 comes out of the wrong depot. The B82 does not belong at ENY depot. WTF is it dong there anyway?? It should be at Cropsey. It is absolutely ridiculous how drivers have to travel almost the entire duration of the B83 just to get to the starting point of the B82 line in Starrett City. Just plain stupid. Theres traffic on Pennsylvania Ave during weekdays which attributes to the lateness and reliability problems on the 82. Another problem is the bunching but I guess thats a widespread problem. If the 82 would be better supervised, bunching can be avoided or least occur less frequently. The 82 is notorious for buncing especially at the 11 o’clock hour when there is no traffic no Kings Highway. It’s. B.S. when three 82’s arrive at the Q train at 11:30pm at night. I blame this problem on the drivers. While there are a lot of factors involved such as traffic, speed/aggresive of each driver, passenger load, senior/wheelchair passengers, etc., I feel that a lot of the time the bunching is done intentionally by drivers so they can have less of a workload. Matter of fact, I been told this by an MTA employee themselves. It’s got to stop. On a positive note, I am impressed with the Limited Stop service on the 82. It actually works. Well for me anyway. Ive gotten to my destinations 10-15 mins faster and not only did the limited catch up to local buses that left earlier, it left them in the dust. So kudos to the MTA for that but limited service should be all day instead of part-time bidirectional. Just my two cents.

  27. Wow, this plan doesn’t help the problems with the B4 at all — it still doesn’t go through much of Sheepshead Bay and separates Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge from that area.  Why do you care if Queens residents can access “businesses along Emmons Avenue, including the UA Theater” while residents in BROOKLYN can’t?  This plan also destroys the B82.  I regularly have to take the B82 from Cropsey almost all the way to Canarsie, and your changes would force me and others like me (there are many) to have to transfer.  With such an already-long commute, a transfer would make it unbearable.  The B82 is one of the few buses that can get you where you need to go directly — let’s keep it that way, huh?  The reductions in service to that line have been painful enough.

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