Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is Senior Editor for Politics & Policy for WNYC News. She has previously served as Metro Editor, Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
Brooklyn City Councilmember Brad Lander said platform closures in Windsor Terrace and Gowanus, coupled with bus route cuts that went into effect last spring, mean some Brooklyn residents are stuck with few transit options.
This week, the MTA eliminated Manhattan-bound service at two adjacent stations in Windsor Terrace: the 15th Street Prospect Park station, and the Fort Hamilton station. Lander said he's collected some 500 signatures on a petition to the MTA to extend local bus service to bring neighborhood residents to the next stop closer to Manhattan, the 7th Avenue/Ninth street stop on the F Line.
"What we are asking the MTA is very reasonable," Lander said. "We aren't seeking new shuttle buses, or changes in routing, or even changes in their construction schedule. Just a short, simple extension of the existing B68 Bus route, that now terminates at a closed station, up just a few minutes more to the next open station. It would not cost much, or disrupt service. But it would make a big difference to a lot of people."
The MTA said there are alternatives, including the B67/B69 bus that links Park Slope to parts of Windsor Terrace and Kensington and the B61, a bus that runs irregularly along 9th Street to Prospect Park West. An official expressed doubt that extending the B68 bus to Park Slope would be faster than backriding -- taking a train further into Brooklyn before changing to a Manhattan-bound train -- or that the bus would be able to handle the ridership from the subway.
The MTA said the project, the Culver Viaduct Rehabilitation Project, is for necessary maintenance work. It said it hadn't received any complaints about the closures.
But Windsor Terrace straphangers were ready to complain Tuesday. "I think it's silly to start in the winter," said rider Beth Manitsky. "I don't quite understand that, considering the weather has been so bad."
Don Lynaugh added "'I have a little child at home, so now we have to get him to day care faster. It sets everything back, obviously. At least an extra 15, 20 minutes every morning."
Lander said the MTA has not listened to the community. The MTA said it met with community leaders before the changes went into effect. A spokesman, Kevin Ortiz, noted that it's not unusual for the MTA to close adjacent station platforms and that this happened "a few years back" on the 4 line in the Bronx.