Good evening, and Mubarak Eid al-Adha.
What better excuse to treat yourself than NYC Restaurant week. This year 46 Brooklyn restaurants are offering fixed-price menus (over 500 citywide) from today through August 22 at $29, $31, and $125, including takeout and delivery options in a lot of cases. (That photo's from Tanoreen in Bay Ridge.)
Enrollment ends Tuesday for this 100% free, full-day (8 am-6 pm) camp for school-aged kids across the city. The program has been operating since July 6th and will stop enrolling children as of the end of Tuesday, July 20, at midnight. Sign up at nyc.gov/summerrising. It is 100% free for any school-aged child across the city.
Billy Richling • 6 min read
One night this spring, Flatbush resident Mitch White emerged from the Nostrand Avenue A train station on his way home from JFK airport. He planned to make what should have been a quick transfer to the B44-SBS bus that runs along Nostrand Avenue, but when he arrived at the bus stop, he found the countdown clocks weren’t operating.
So he sat and waited—for 45 minutes, so long that the free transfer on his Metrocard expired, and he was forced to pay an additional $2.75 fare.
“That is unfortunately not an uncommon experience for a lot of bus riders,” said White, who works for the healthcare union 1199 SEIU.
As the city reopens and the pandemic seems to recede (at least for now), the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s (MTA) bus network seems to be reverting to its notoriously unreliable, pre-COVID self. But the MTA still has no specific timeline for when it will restart its ambitious plan to redesign routes and offer faster, more reliable service, despite months of pleas from riders and advocates to get things moving again after pausing the revamp during the height of the pandemic.
"We are planning to resume our public outreach on bus redesign work in the months ahead," was the most specific answer MTA spokesperson Andrei Berman could provide Bklyner in a statement.
Average bus speeds in Brooklyn are down to 7.4 miles per hour, lower than the citywide average of 8.2 mph and down from a citywide high of 9.2 mph, which came when streets emptied out in April and May 2020. The city’s bus system is the slowest of any major US city, according to a 2017 report from the city comptroller’s office, which often meant hellish commutes for the more than 2 million people that rode the buses daily before the pandemic.
The MTA’s bus network redesign plan kicked off in 2018, under the leadership of Andy Byford, then president of the New York City Transit Authority, who made improving bus service a top priority.
In Staten Island, the only borough where the redesign process was completed, the MTA added routes and eliminated some stops on express bus service, resulting in a 10% increase in speed, among other improvements. By early 2020, the redesigned Bronx map was complete and ready for implementation, while public engagement in Queens was underway.
In Brooklyn, the process was in its early stages at the beginning of last year, when the MTA released an Existing Conditions report, which found declining bus ridership on a network that had not been meaningfully updated in decades, despite major shifts in the borough’s population and economy.
“The continuing decline in bus ridership in Brooklyn, and in New York City, requires a fresh look at how we provide bus service,” the MTA’s report says. “Buses are slowing down and bus reliability is suffering. Over that same period, our customers’ needs have transformed dramatically. The bus network needs to evolve with them.”
But in late January 2020, Byford resigned after conflicts with Governor Andrew Cuomo, and in March, the pandemic ground the redesign process to a halt.
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Liena Zagare • 2 min read
"We do have a challenge now," Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledged this morning talking about the relentless climb in COVID-19 infection rates across the city, pushing for more people to get vaccinated.
As of today, just 4.5 million or 53.5% of the city's residents have been vaccinated, according to city data. An average of 516 people a day tested positive over the last seven days, or 1.69% of those who got tested, though much of Brooklyn is already well above 2% infection rates.
BAM's Fall Programming Includes Prize-Winning Meditation on Climate, a 100-keyboard "Sonic Bath" and more
Billy Richling • 4 min read
Brooklyn is wading its way through a hot and humid summer. But one marquee cultural institution is already looking ahead to autumn.
The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) announced the first of its fall programming plans late last week: on the docket is a Venice Biennale prize-winning theatre piece, the US debut of a Brazilian choreographer, and a hypnotic "sonic bath" performed on over 100 battery-operated toy keyboards.
“The hunger for artistic adventures has never been greater as our world continues to change around us,” David Binder, BAM's Artistic Director, said.