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Locals Rally to Revive B71 Bus with Faster, More Useful Route

By Leslie Albrecht | October 13, 2015 3:02pm
 State Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon and other elected officials joined neighborhood groups to rally in support of restoring the B71 bus, which was cut in 2010.
State Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon and other elected officials joined neighborhood groups to rally in support of restoring the B71 bus, which was cut in 2010.
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Office of State Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon

PARK SLOPE — A faster, more useful B71 bus could hit Brooklyn streets if advocates and elected officials get their way.

State Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and State Senator Jesse Hamilton on Tuesday morning joined neighborhood groups to rally in support of bringing back the B71, which was axed in 2010 amid MTA budget cuts.

The bus connected Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Crown Heights and the Columbia Street Waterfront District.

Officials say the loss of the B71 has hurt seniors and disabled riders most, and has cut off thousands of borough residents from cultural resources such as the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Brooklyn Public Library.

"The elimination of this line shows that the MTA is out of touch with the transit needs of this community, and I refuse to stand idly by as my constituents struggle to go about their day-to-day activities," Simon said Tuesday.

With the Park Slope Civic Council leading the charge, locals have launched an effort to bring back a slightly different version of the B71 route that would make the bus run faster and be more useful for riders, said Civic Council trustee Michael Cairl.

The revised route would skip traffic choke points on Union Street and Eastern Parkway that slowed the B71, and would extend the route to include Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Brooklyn Children's Museum, more of the Columbia Street Waterfront District and more of Crown Heights.

The MTA cut the B71 in 2010 in part because of low ridership, but Cairl said the new route would make the bus more reliable and more useful, which will translate into more filled seats on the B71. There's also been plenty of new development since 2010 — Brooklyn Bridge Park didn't exist back then — which means there's more demand now for the route, Cairl said.

An MTA spokesman said Tuesday that there's no plan to restore the B71, and added that when the line was discontinued, it ranked eighth from the bottom citywide in total ridership.

"Customers have viable alternatives with the B65 on Bergen St./Dean St. or on Ninth Street when we extended the B61," said MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz.

The MTA's response didn't dampen Cairl's spirit. He noted that advocates waged a successful three-year battle to bring back the B37, another line that was cut in 2010.

As of Tuesday, more than 1,000 people had signed an online petition in favor of returning the B71.

"I'm under no illusions that this will be a quick process, but I think we're off to a promising start," Cairl said. "The next step is to keep rallying the support of elected officials and civic groups and community boards and average citizens to get as many people behind this a possible. We're pretty confident that we’ll end up with a lot of support, and that will make a difference to the MTA."