Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Red Hook

Red Hook Push for Bus to Manhattan Grows as MTA Eyes ‘Options’

Red Hook residents want a direct bus to Manhattan now!

Photo: Kevin Duggan|

The B61 bus goes from Red Hook to Downtown Brooklyn, but often gets stuck in traffic.

A new coalition of Red Hook residents and supporters is pushing for a bus route between the Brooklyn neighborhood and Lower Manhattan — while MTA officials indicate they're taking another look at better transit options for the enclave.

The newly founded Red Hook Coalition For A Bus To Manhattan may finally be getting a hearing from the transit authority, which has in the past insisted residents continue to rely on buses to and from subway stations in adjacent neighborhoods because of "congestion challenges" en route to Manhattan.

"We are carefully looking at a variety of transit options to and from Red Hook separately from the Brooklyn Bus Network Redesign," MTA spokesman Michael Cortez told Streetsblog on Thursday.

Officials have discussed a bus link from the subway-less waterfront enclave to Manhattan since at least the Giuliani administration. Last fall, a local civic group sent a letter asking transit officials for the service again ahead of June's congestion pricing launch and the redesign the Brooklyn's bus network.

"We need a bus to Manhattan, and have been asking for it for 30 years — now’s the time to do it," said Nico Kean, one of the new coalition's founders.

The coalition counts 18 neighborhood and transit advocacy groups among its members, along with seven politicians from all levels of government.

While the groups haven't settled on a specific proposal, the MTA could extend an existing line across the river, said Kean — such as the M9 that runs near the Manhattan end of the tunnel, where there are several hospitals — or establish a shorter loop between the two boroughs.

A new M9 would connect to several hospitals on Manhattan's East Side and offer Downtown Manhattanites a quick trip to the increasingly popular Brooklyn neighborhood.

"Having the possibility of hopping on a bus and going to the hospital would be an absolute game changer," said Matías Kalwill, another founder of the coalition.

A 2014 transportation study by the Department of City Planning suggested tacking on a Red Hook extension to the M22 bus, which currently runs between the Lower East Side and Battery Park City.

City officials suggested an extension of the M22 bus to Red Hook in 2014. Map: Department of City Planning

The MTA already runs eight express buses through the Hugh Carey Tunnel, all from deeper in the borough. None of them stop in Red Hook, even though the nabe straddles the entrance to the underground tube.

"We’re right here, and they bypass us entirely," Kean said.

One-third of Red Hook residents commute to Manhattan for work. Sixty-nine percent of households don't own a car, according to statistics collected by Transportation Alternatives, which recently launched a petition in favor of better bus service.

The overwhelming majority of Red Hook residents live in the vast New York City Housing Authority complexes of Red Hook East and Red Hook West, and residents making below $40,000 have a higher share of commutes to Manhattan at 45 percent, according to Transportation Alternatives.

The MTA's draft plan to overhaul the Brooklyn bus network from late 2022 proposed two new routes in Red Hook — neither of them connected to Manhattan.

But the authority expects traffic in the congestion toll zone below 60th Street to drop by as much as one-fifth when the charge goes live on June 30. More mass transit would further help getting people out of personal vehicles, said Kalwill. That could also cut down on some of the gridlock caused by massive cruise ships docking in the neighborhood, whose thousands of passengers tend to take individual rides out of the neighborhood, bringing streets to a standstill.

"The bus is something that would reduce traffic, not be a victim of traffic," he said. "If the problem is that there’s traffic, then the bus is the solution, not the excuse."

A flyer the new Red Hook bus campaign on Van Brunt Street. Photo: Nico Kean

The peninsula is cut off from the rest of the borough by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, and currently has two bus lines to Downtown Brooklyn, the B61 and the B57, both of which regularly slow to a crawl due to car traffic.

The next nearest subway station, meanwhile, at Smith and Ninth Streets in Gowanus, is about a 20-minute walk away plus a long climb up steps and escalators.

There is also the NYC Ferry at Atlantic Basin, which is infrequent and at the other end of the neighborhood from the NYCHA developments.

"It can take an hour to go from Red Hook to Downtown Brooklyn," said Kalwill. "With congestion pricing kicking in there’s a mandate to serve underserved communities, and here you have one."

The coalition will formally launch their campaign at Red Hook Fest on Saturday, June 1, 2–6 p.m., at Valentino Pier.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

DOT Begins Safety Upgrades for Atlantic Av. But Locals Want More

Some changes are coming for Atlantic, but they're not enough, say street safety advocates.

July 24, 2024

MTA Contractor Scrambles to Refund Fake Charges After OMNY ‘Upgrade’ Goes Awry

Cubic is working to issue refunds to riders improperly charged thanks to the glitch, a spokesman said.

July 24, 2024

Podcast: GOP’s ‘Project 2025’ is ‘Based on a Lot of Ignorance’

What does Transportation for America's Beth Osborne think of the transportation portion of the Heritage Foundation's playbook for a Trump presidency?

July 24, 2024

Hochul’s Congestion Pricing ‘Pause’ Will Cost Area Companies Billions

A new analysis shows what districts will suffer the most from the loss of $12 billion in capital funding.

July 24, 2024

Wednesday’s Headlines: Adams Blames the Victim Edition

Mayor Adams blames pedestrian victims for their own deaths. Plus more news.

July 24, 2024
See all posts