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Eyes On The Street: Great B82 SBS Service Hurt by Cars, Golden, Felder

The start of the line.

Southern Brooklyn politicians who favor private parking to public transit have succeeded — they’ve made the B82 SBS run far worse for tens of thousands of constituents.

The MTA and city Department of Transportation launched the limited-stop select bus route earlier this month, and it has resulted in shorter bus trips for riders — but those trips could have been even shorter had State Sen. Marty Golden, State Sen. Simcha Felder, Council Member Chaim Deutsch and others not intervened to deprive the route of more dedicated bus lanes.

As a result, the bus is constantly delayed by double- and illegally-parked cars and trucks along the commercial strip in the heart of its route: Kings Highway between Avenue P and Ocean Parkway.

But Felder — hailed as a hero in the pro-parking Jewish press — only sees the buses causing all the problems. In an Oct. 11 letter to New York City Transit President Andy Byford, he claimed his office has “been inundated with complaints about unmanageable gridlock” along the segment of the route near Nostrand Avenue (for the record, Streetsblog didn’t witness any “gridlock” during several round-trips this month on the B82 SBS. Reminder: Gridlock is entirely caused by drivers who enter intersections before there is room for them to get through said intersection).

B82 route
The route of the B82 SBS.
The route of the B82 SBS.

Rather, the only consistent problem along the route from Gravesend to Starrett City is that illegally parked cars and trucks — which the politicians enabled by refusing to create more dedicated bus lanes — ruin what could otherwise be efficient, speedy, comfortable bus service.

The Department of Transportation wanted to create 6.5 miles of dedicated bus lane, but capitulated to the pols and create just five miles. Agency spokeswoman Alana Morales said DOT thinks that “this give and take process over the course of two-plus years has overall led to a stronger plan.”

It has not.

The good news? The B82 SBS is a delight. Off-bus ticketing and all-door boarding, plus more dedicated lanes trim roughly 18 minutes off the full journey from Seaview Avenue to 24th Avenue. That’s 21 percent faster than Google Maps estimated for the journey on the standard B82.

The improvement is impressive, but it would be so much better if so many drivers didn’t illegally park on the commercial stretch of Kings Highway in the neighborhood many call Madison (but I consider Midwood).

Here are just some of the drivers who selfishly slowed down hundreds of bus riders:

double park best
More people would take the bus and abandon their cars if drivers were less selfish about blocking buses in the public right of way, as they do here on Kings Highway. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Scofflaw trucks like these are costing us big-time. File photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Here's another:

This one was unbelievable. The driver of the black SUV actually stopped directly across from the Frito-Lay truck, leaving literally no room for anyone to pass.
This one was unbelievable. The driver of the black SUV actually stopped directly across from the Frito-Lay truck, leaving literally no room for anyone to pass.
This one was unbelievable. The driver of the black SUV actually stopped directly across from the Frito-Lay truck, leaving literally no room for anyone to pass.

All of this "gridlock" could have been avoided with bus lanes and proper parking enforcement. But politicians deferred to the tiny portion of the electorate that gets around in private cars (or, more likely, the shipowners who want to have a spot in front of their stores so they can feed the meter all day). For some reasons, voters don't hold them accountable when they simply lie; indeed, the MTA/DOT proposal for the SBS revealed that 75 percent of weekday shoppers on Kings Highway arrive either by transit or on foot. Only 23 percent drove to the commercial area. So why defer to the needs of that car-owning minority?

This bus even smiles at you. Photo: Ben Jay
This bus even smiles at you. Photo: Ben Jay
This bus even smiles at you. Photo: Ben Jay

Why not, instead, help people like Juvenal Gonzalez, a 22-year-old security guard who uses the new SBS to get from E. 1o5th Street to the B/Q station at Kings Highway.

“It gets me [to the subway] a lot faster because it skips so many stops,” he said, estimating that the SBS saves him 10 or 15 minutes.

If Felder wanted to help people like Gonzalez, he could refocus his attention on transit users, not the drivers who are getting in the way.

He hinted as much in that Oct. 11 letter to Byford, writing, “We ask you to take any, and all necessary steps to ease traffic flow.”

My guess, however, is that Felder meant “all necessary steps except for removing on-street car storage in favor of more dedicated bus lanes.” (Felder, as always, did not respond to a request for comment.)

With Ben Jay

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