By Jose Martinez and Trone Dowd
The push to extend subway service along busy Utica Avenue in Brooklyn — mused about for more than a century — is now running on two tracks.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams plans to gather a transit task force of residents and community representatives who live near the Utica Avenue corridor to explore potential mass transit upgrades.
“My first goal is to see if we can get a subway line there, an actual in-the-ground subway,” Adams told THE CITY. “But I am open to whatever comes out of this study from the task force.”
The task force comes on top of the MTA’s ongoing $5 million Utica Avenue transit improvements study, which launched last year after Mayor Bill de Blasio pushed for the funds to be tucked into the state agency’s 2015-2019 capital plan.
MTA officials this week began making presentations to Brooklyn community boards about the status of the study, which is set to receive another $5 million infusion via the authority’s proposed 2020-2024 capital plan.
A range of potential transit upgrades could be in store for Utica Avenue, according to the MTA, including: extending subway service; building a light rail line; or converting the B46 bus route — the third-busiest in the city — into street-level “bus rapid transit” to provide more frequent service.
Long Bus Waits
The No. 4 line ends at the Utica Avenue stop in Crown Heights, where many riders then have to shift onto buses or so-called dollar vans to travel through subway-less neighborhoods like Flatlands.
“I think getting some more train service on Utica would be a good idea,” said Patrick Weeks, 46, who was waiting for a B46 bus near the Utica Avenue A and C train stop in Bedford-Stuyvesant, which factors in to some concepts for an extension. “The amount of people at this station here, so many of them get off here to take this bus.”
The B46 Local and Select Bus Service carry close to 44,000 riders daily, according to the MTA. But longer buses have been added to the route to increase capacity, while service frequency has been reduced during the evening rush and the midday hours.
“Sometimes, you could be waiting here for a good 30 minutes,” said Emile Jean, 18, as he waited for a B46 bus.
From Bushwick to Canarsie
Adams said his task force, whose first meeting is scheduled for March 4, aims to collect input from residents and elected officials in neighborhoods along the Utica Avenue corridor from Bushwick to Canarsie.
“Going from Eastern Parkway down into Avenue V, that whole stretch of real estate is lacking access for transportation,” Adams said.
The MTA study is supposed to identify funding sources for Utica Avenue transit improvements and come up with five “investment packages” for potential upgrades to No. 2, 3, 4 and 5 service along Eastern Parkway.
Despite plans for a subway extension that have existed in some form since 1910, riders said they’re not expecting to see trains along the Utica Avenue soon.
“I don’t think I’ll be alive by the time the MTA makes that happen,” laughed Jimmy Perez, 24.