Transit Town Hall Attendees Unite For Better Bus and Subway Service
Local Commuters Join Assembly Members Steven Cymbrowitz and Helene Weinstein and Sheepshead Bites To Discuss Transit Improvements
Last night, Transportation Alternatives, Assembly Members Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn) and Helene Weinstein (D-Brooklyn), the Sheepshead Bay--Plumb Beach Civic Association and Sheepshead Bites co-sponsored the Sheepshead Bay Transit Rider Town Hall. City Council Members Michael Nelson (D-Brooklyn) and Lew Fidler (D-Brooklyn) joined over 60 residents from Sheepshead Bay, Plumb Beach, Gerritsen Beach and other Southern Brooklyn communities who attended and discussed how to improve public transit in their neighborhoods.
Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz said, "A decade ago 'rush hour traffic' referred to our highways and Manhattan's entry points. Now we all experience it locally whether trying to cross a street as pedestrians or getting through an intersection as motorists. Mass transit is vital to this city and an efficient system is essential in motivating more motorists out of their cars and onto our buses and trains. This is why I worked with my Assembly colleagues to increase transit funding by five percent over last year's allocations and co-sponsored last night's Transit Rider Town Hall."
The top transit improvements discussed were the need for the restoration of service along the B4 bus line, additional service on other local buses and better communication about ongoing service disruptions from track work on the Q train. In 2010, transit riders suffered the worst service cuts in a generation. Those cuts eliminated the B4 east of Ocean Parkway on weekday off-peak hours and weekends, eliminating a one-seat connection to the B and Q trains at Sheepshead Bay Station.
Assembly Member Helene Weinstein said, "It is clear from listening to the attendees last night, that priority should be given to expanding the B4 beyond peak hours and increasing the route to be more inclusive of the Sheepshead Bay and Plumb Beach neighborhoods. We must keep fighting to preserve, if not increase, the service in Sheepshead Bay and Southern Brooklyn while keeping the fares for hard-working middle class families at an affordable level."
"Neighborhoods like Sheepshead Bay are always hit particularly hard by service cuts," said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. "There is something wrong when riders are expected to pay higher fares for buses and subways that are increasingly unreliable. With the leadership of elected officials like Assembly Members Cymbrowitz and Weinstein, events like last night's town hall are critical steps in working with Albany and the City Council to identify the needs and find the money that will make New York's public transit more affordable and reliable."
"For years, Sheepshead Bites has been covering the transit cuts and their devastating effects on our neighbors," said Ned Berke, Publisher of Sheepshead Bites. "With leadership on this issue all but non-existent, this town hall was the next logical step to ensuring our community is heard, and it's with tremendous delight that we see our local electeds putting mass transit at the top of their agendas."
Transportation Alternatives surveyed more than 200 Sheepshead Bay residents, asking them their opinions on the quality of public transportation in their community. Two-thirds, 66 percent, said there is not enough subway and bus service. A plurality of those surveyed, 45 percent, said Sheepshead Bay needs increased bus service.
In the last six months, four different elected officials from across New York City worked with the MTA to improve and increase service in their communities. Council Member Brad Lander's work on the B61, State Senator Daniel Squadron's efforts to improve the L Train and State Senator Jeff Klein and Council Member James Vacca's collaboration to extend the Bx24's route led to service improvements. District Leader Lincoln Restler and other elected officials are fighting to maintain the G Train's extended route, and Representative Joe Crowley and City Council Member Danny Dromm are working to reopen the Elmhurst Long Island Railroad station. The genesis for these improvements was bus and subway riders speaking out about the need for better service; then elected officials stood up as champions for their constituents.
Transit riders, like the dozens at last night's town hall, need their elected representatives to develop new funding solutions to keep fares affordable and service reliable for the supermajority of working New Yorkers who rely on public transit.
The New York State budget has an impact on subway and bus service, as does the City's investment in the MTA. If transit riders experience another fare hike in 2013, it will be the fourth such hike since 2007--all as a result of inadequate funding from Albany and the City of New York. New Yorkers are saddled with the highest fare burden in the nation, and Albany's formula to finance the MTA Capital Plan, which makes necessary station and track repairs, with massive debt will only increase pressure to raise the fare.
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