BED-STUY, BROOKLYN — Bus riders in Bed-Stuy told the MTA that not all change is good in a public workshop meeting last week.
At issue was the proposed changes to the Brooklyn bus route network, unveiled by the MTA in early December.
While five routes in Bed-Stuy are posed to face changes of varying degrees, many residents at last week’s meeting focused on changes to the B15 and B43 routes.
Residents complained that the draft changes, which would remove buses from Tompkins and Lewis Avenues from both routes to be replaced with a shared stretch of Throop Avenue and Marcus Garvey Boulevard in Bed-Stuy, would create a new transit desert in the neighborhood, forcing long walks for seniors, disabled residents and children through notoriously rat infested blocks.
“We’re rat infested. We’re crime infested. And now we don’t have the proper transportation,” said resident Audrey Vaughn at the Jan. 17 meeting. “It’s just not fair.”
The consolidation of the two routes would leave two corridors, nearly a half-mile wide, devoid of bus service in Bed-Stuy, one of the most drastic proposed changes in central Brooklyn.
“What’s the point of that?” said one bed-stuy resident named Juanita. “Just leave it alone.”
MTA officials went through each route before dividing into discussion rooms, informing attendees that the goal of the route redesign was to create faster, more reliable service for bus riders in Brooklyn.
But Vaughn, and many others at the meeting last Tuesday, voiced concern that seniors were left out of the MTA’s draft plans.
Vaughn noted that many seniors live near Lewis Avenue, including at the 94-unit Quincy Senior Residences. Those residents who can currently catch a north-bound B15 on the corner of their block on Lewis Avenue, would face a nearly half-mile walk to ride the same bus in the proposed plan to move the route to Throop Avenue.
“To send a senior to Throop Avenue or Malcolm X Boulevard with a cane in a wheelchair is not fair,” Vaughn said.
Other attendees noted that many NYCHA residents in Bed-Stuy, like at the Tompkins Houses, would also get shortchanged with the relocation of the two routes. Tompkins Houses residents would have to hike to Marcus Garvey for the same Prospect Park-bound bus under the draft proposal.
Another resident, Hannah King, who said she has a physical disability, raised the point that for people with mobility challenges, the proposed changes would “have a very meaningful impact on my ability to access the city and access transit, as well as so many of my neighbors.”
Ricardo Rivera said that because of a vision impairment, the proposed changes would introduce new difficulties in his daily life.
“Having multiple avenues in between bus lines really creates a problem for me with my vision impairment navigating the dark blocks in between each avenue in Bed-Stuy,” Rivera said, “having them staggered at every other avenue was really, really helpful for me .”
MTA officials at the meeting said they appreciated all the feedback in the workshop, and reminded residents that this meeting is part of a long process of incorporating community input to their route redesign plan.
Tori Winters, a principal transit planner at the MTA who helped facilitate the meeting, said that their reasoning behind the B43 and B15 routes sharing the same streets was to better facilitate transfers and transit options by having multiple north/south routes at the same stop.
“I think what we’re hearing is that people also value the fact that there are routes on multiple streets in a row, even if the transfer is a block away,” Winter said. “Point definitely heard on that.”
In addition to the remaining public bus redesign workshops, residents can also leave comments via an interactive map called Remix, which displays existing and proposed routes in Brooklyn. Riders can also leave comments on the proposal here.
Other opportunities for public feedback will also be available over the next stages of the project as the MTA develops a final proposed plan, according to an official at the meeting.
To learn more about the Brooklyn bus redesign proposals, click here.