Rally ahead of MTA’s Brooklyn Bus Network Redesign Open House in Park Slope called for an east-west route to restore and expand service lost when the B71 bus was cut in 2010
Brooklyn, NY— Residents of Red Hook, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, and Gowanus joined New York City Council Members Brad Lander and Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon and community leaders to call for restored and expanded east-west bus service to connect communities along the waterfront with central Brooklyn.
The B71 bus route, which connected the neighborhoods of Columbia Heights, Carroll Gardens, Gowanus, Prospect Heights, and Crown Heights, was cut along with other Brooklyn routes in 2010. Since then, community members have repeatedly called for restored and expanded service that would include a connection to transit-starved Red Hook. Following the rally, community members delivered over 1300 petition signatures to the MTA calling for a revived and expanded cross-Gowanus bus route.
“The B71 bus was a vital link for our neighborhoods,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “When it was cut, students lost a route to school, seniors lost the bus that took them to the grocery store and the library, and families lost a ride to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum and Prospect Park. The MTA has an opportunity now, as they consider improvements to the entire Brooklyn bus network, to invest in a much needed connection for our growing neighborhoods.”
Before it was cut in 2010, the B71 bus served nine schools, three senior centers and multiple public housing complexes. The neighborhoods surrounding the old route have grown rapidly in recent years and are projected to grow significantly more with the proposed rezoning in Gowanus.
The rally took place ahead of an open house hosted by the MTA. The agency is considering holistic changes to the entire Brooklyn bus network, and conducting open houses across the borough to hear from residents about unmet needs and gaps in service.
Elected officials, residents, community board members, advocates for seniors, environmental justice advocates, Red Hook community leaders, and representatives from cultural institutions served by the old line spoke out about the importance of reviving and expanding a similar route.
“Our Brooklyn neighborhoods lost a vital connector when the MTA eliminated the B71 bus line several years ago. It’s time to restore this bus service with a revised route that would serve the increased transit needs of the area’s growing population. Linking the transit-starved neighborhood of Red Hook to Crown Heights and even possibly lower Manhattan through a new East-West bus route would provide a solid option for riders to go to work, school, medical visits, local businesses, or cultural institutions. A new bus route would also have the advantage of being accessible to people with disabilities and the increasing population of older adults. The community has long called to restore this sorely missed bus line, and now it’s time to make it happen,” said Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon.
“While I join this call to restore the B71 bus route, we have an opportunity to bring it back better than before. The Red Hook Houses sit just a few blocks south of the original west end of the route. Let’s aim for more than restoration. Let’s aim for revitalization by incorporating public housing in a new route. It makes no sense to leave out seniors, families, and students who live just a few blocks away. At tonight’s Bus Network Redesign meeting, let’s make sure we are fighting for our most vulnerable neighbors too,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.
“A comprehensive bus system is crucial to the health of our neighborhoods. By utilizing bus only lanes and priority signaling we can greatly improve service to our citizens as well as reduce congestion and add more accessible public transit options. Restoring service from Central Brooklyn through our neighborhoods with easy connections to Manhattan is vital to everyone that would be served by that route. Seniors and students, families and workers all need this once vital connection to become a reality again. We call on the MTA to restore it immediately,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.
Kathy Park Price, a mom and founder of the civic engagement organization for families called Citizen Squirrel, said, “Take a look at a current bus map of Brooklyn and there is a gaping hole where the B71, which connected several growing communities, ran until 10 years ago. The void represents, for example, excellent public schools that families aren’t able to consider, fewer options to buy healthy food, quality music lessons that are too out of the way, medical care that might serve a family better, and neighborhoods that would thrive even more if they were connected again. Brooklyn’s families deserve and need the B71 back.”
“Since the B71 was eliminated the better part of a decade ago, a large swath of our community has lacked any kind of east-west bus connection, depriving residents of adequate access to work, schools, parks and cultural destinations. In redesigning the Brooklyn Bus Network, it’s absolutely critical that the MTA heed our call to connect our Brooklyn neighborhoods to each other and to lower Manhattan. As a city, we must prioritize fast, efficient, and reliable bus service,” said Eric McClure, co-chair of the Brooklyn Community Board 6 Transportation Committee.
“Restoration of the B71 bus would allow older people to maintain their independence and get out and interact within their neighboring communities, shop locally, get to cultural institution, doctor appointments and visit with friends. With the current lack of elevators in the subway system, many older people and those who cannot climb steps use the buses as their sole means of transportation. Without this, many become confined to their homes and the few surrounding blocks. Numerous recent studies have shown that social isolation is deadly for older people. We need to be doing all we can to maintain the independence and integration of our older neighbors,” said Judy Willig, executive director of Heights and Hills, an organization serving older adults.
“As the City-proposed Gowanus Neighborhood Rezoning is expected to bring 20,000+ new residents, agencies must plan and invest in smart, sustainable infrastructure to support new and existing residents, from ensuring zero additional sewage flows into the Gowanus Canal to establishing comprehensive transportation options,” said Andrea Parker, Executive Director, Gowanus Canal Conservancy. “Both current and new residents of Gowanus will benefit from an accessible transportation route through Gowanus provided by an east-west connector bus.”
“Students and families need this critical route to the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Prospect Park, and the Library. As the population around the new route has grown, we need investments in transportation and bus routes that will support our community’s growing need and make institutions – like the Brooklyn Museum – more accessible,” said David Berliner, President and COO of the Brooklyn Museum.