CLINTON HILL/FORT GREENE/DOWNTOWN – Commuters who rely on the B54 bus are fighting against the MTA‘s plans to cut service on the line this fall.
The B54 runs from Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn via Myrtle Avenue to Palmetto Street/St. Nicholas Avenue in Ridgewood. The Myrtle Ave Brooklyn Partnership BID launched a change.org petition against the planned service changes, arguing that they will increase wait times and create more crowded buses. The online petition has already collected more than 1,000 signatures of its 1,500 goal.
“For most of Myrtle Avenue, the B54 is the only transit option available. Cutting service will further decline ridership, leading to worse conditions for riders who cannot afford to hail cabs or who are unable to walk the long distance to a subway station,” the petition reads.
“We make adjustments to bus routes four times a year to align more closely with ridership and the actual travel times of the routes so that buses run on schedule — a priority we’ve heard from our customers — and with fewer empty seats,” according to a statement from the MTA. The B54 line is part of 29 bus schedule changes on 23 routes proposed by the MTA to go into effect in Fall 2019.
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The B54 schedule will incrementally increase headways (wait times between buses): 1 minute during the morning peak periods (from 7 minutes to 8); 3 minutes during off-peak midday hours (from 12 minutes to 15); and 3 minutes during off-peak evening hours (from 9 minutes to 12).
Two other Brooklyn bus lines will also see changes this fall—the B15 (Bed-Stuy to JFK Airport) and the B38 (from Downtown Brooklyn to Ridgewood via DeKalb and Lafayette Avenues). The B15 schedule will increase wait times by one minute during off-peak midday hours. Peak travel hours on the B15 schedules will remain the same.
The B38 will get articulated buses in the fall that can accommodate more commuters—115 as opposed to the 85 riders a regular 40-foot bus can carry, according to the MTA. Since the longer buses can accommodate more passengers, wait times will be increased by 1-3 minutes on weekdays and 2-3 minutes on weekends.
“These buses received very small adjustments of only one to three minutes,” the MTA statement notes. Once implemented, the MTA will monitor the service changes to ensure that the new schedules meet customer demands. The 29 schedule changes are based on “changes in ridership” and will create a savings of approximately $7 million, according to the agency.
Chad Purkey, the Executive Director of the Myrtle Ave Brooklyn Partnership, told Bklyner in an email that he has reached out to the MTA in an effort to “gather more specifics” about the proposed B54 changes and “to let them know that we obviously disagree with this decision.”
Purkey said community feedback on the B54 service change has been “universally … against seeing these cuts.” He added that locals need the B54 bus “to run well because of the lack of other nearby transit options.”
The Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership will stage a rally on Thursday, August 8 at 10am at the Myrtle Ave & Washington Ave bus stop to demand that the MTA “abandon its plans” to change the B54 bus service.
“We will monitor service on these routes when the new schedules are implemented this fall, and look forward to working closely with the community during the upcoming Brooklyn bus network redesign, when we will re-examine all of the borough’s bus routes collectively for the first time since they started in order to improve service throughout the system,” the statement from the MTA reads.