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Will DOT and the MTA Prioritize Parking Over Tens of Thousands of B82 Riders?

Anti-transit NIMBYs protesting better B82 bus service take a moment to wish Council Member Mark Treyger a happy birthday. Photo: @KalmanYeger

It looks like the MTA and DOT are altering the plan for Select Bus Service for the B82 to appease elected officials who don't want to make room for bus riders on Kings Highway.

Serving 28,000 trips a day, the B82 is a critical east-west route across southern Brooklyn, connecting to dozens of other transit lines. Service is notoriously unreliable, in large part because buses are mired in traffic and blocked by double-parked vehicles. There are long waits as riders line up to dip their MetroCards. Buses move at an average speed of under 7 miles per hour, bunching is common, and fewer than half of B82 buses arrive on time.

Outreach for B82 SBS dates to 2015. Since then, DOT has held dozens of public meetings on the project, surveying business people and local residents, including hundreds of bus riders.

With dedicated bus lanes, off-board fare collection, and all-door boarding, prior Select Bus Service projects have increased bus speeds up to 30 percent. The DOT plan is to add bus lanes where B82 service is slowest, including a segment of Kings Highway which 75 to 80 percent of people access without a car [PDF]. As a concession to anti-transit gripers, the lanes would be in effect for just six hours a day on weekdays, from 7 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. Bus lanes would replace 134 parking spots during those hours. At other times, that space would be dedicated to storing cars.

But the prospect of reserving curb space for bus riders for even a few hours a week is too much for electeds who have set out to derail the project: state senators Marty Golden and Simcha Felder; Assembly members Steven Cymbrowitz, Dov Hikind, and Bill Colton; and City Council members Mark Treyger and Chaim Deutsch.

Now, it appears those officials have succeeded in delaying the implementation of B82 SBS, watering it down, or both. Last Friday Golden tweeted that the project was postponed so the MTA and DOT can “consider alternative options.”

I thank the @MTA and @NYC_DOT for their decision to postpone and consider alternative options. I look forward to working with them, as well as my colleagues in Government to improve our cities mass transit system.

— Senator Marty Golden (@SenMartyGolden) April 13, 2018

Bus lanes are DOT's domain. As of this writing we're still waiting for DOT confirmation that the project is on hold. [Update: "Discussions are ongoing," a DOT spokesperson said.]

The MTA sent Streetsblog a statement:

We always strive to be mindful of local impacts when embarking upon a transit improvement project. This is one of the busiest bus routes in Brooklyn and we want to be partners with the communities we operate in; as we’ve said before we are in discussions with local elected officials and communities on how to balance Select Bus Service in the B82 corridor with neighborhood concerns along the route.

The MTA did not comment on the project's timetable. But it sounds as if the agency is willing to cater to the complainers.

Arguments against better B82 service are not supported by reality. Though DOT and the MTA spent years engaging the public, opponents claim the project came from out of nowhere.

Fears that bus improvements cause harm to businesses are unfounded. If anything, data show the opposite is true. And again, the vast majority of people who shop on Kings Highway get there on foot or by bus.

B82 SBS critics have resorted to making wild claims -- see Bill Colton ranting about how the project discriminates against women. What it comes down to is politicians who drive everywhere catering to the merchants and motorists they identify with, instead of the thousands of people who rely on the bus.

Will DOT and the MTA prioritize parking over tens of thousands of B82 riders?

Riders wait to board the B82 in Canarsie/Flatlands. Photo: DOT
Riders wait to board the B82 in Canarsie/Flatlands. Photo: DOT
Riders wait to board the B82 in Canarsie/Flatlands. Photo: DOT

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