There's an economic crisis, and services are going to be cut. The buses and subways are not immune, nor should they be.
The Brooklyn paper reports that the following route cuts , which would impact Bay Ridge/Sunset Park/Bensonhurst directly or indirectly are possible:
- elimination of the the X27 Express bus on the weekend
- the M train will be truncated, and will no longer run from downtown Brooklyn to Bay Parkway during rush hours
- elimination of the W train
- elimination of the B37 bus ( Third Avenue bus )
Elimination of X27 Bus Service on the weekend is Completely Justified
Let's begin with the X27 bus. This service runs a ludicrous route along Shore Road along the far edge of the neighborhood, before it hits the Gowanus Expressway, which means that it is inaccessible to most Bay Ridge residents. It's not a Bay Ridge service at all, it's a service that only has value to those who live on Shore Road or Narrows Avenue.
The dirty little secret is that this service is not that popular. The buses are rather crowded in the rush hour ( though rarely full ), and they are rather empty mid day or late night, and near completely empty during over the weekend. Don't believe me? Take a walk over to Senator Street/Third Avenue on the weekend and watch any bus as it arrives back from Manhattan or just before it goes into Manhattan. I'll bet you a round at Three Jolly Pigeons that the bus will be empty.
These buses serve a tiny minority of Bay Ridge residents. Weekend service should be cut, for budgetary and environmental reasons. Its bad environmental policy to have empty buses running along a crowded highway.
Elimination of the W Train is Completely Justified
The W Train runs from Astoria down Broadway in Manhattan, and technically doesn't go near Bay Ridge.
Except that if you are traveling early in the morning, sometimes you can luck out and catch a W train on the way from the Coney Island yards to Manhattan. They pick up passengers on the local track from 59th Street into Manhattan with a largely empty train. It's great to catch this train, but its an inefficient use of resources.
Another way this train impacts Bay Ridge is that they bunch up around its Whitehall Street terminus, as a southbound W waits for the northbound W to leave the center island track. This can and does cause delays on the southbound R train during the day. I notice it during the late evening trains.
This is a lot of trouble caused by a W train that seems to run empty to uncrowded all the time. This train is like the V line - there was never a good reason for it to exist. Lets kill the W train right now. Like the weekend X27, this is a no brainer.
Shrink the M Train? Only if They Revive the Chambers Street Shuttles
Let's get real- few people take the rush hour lower Manhattan- Bay Parkway leg of this train. While the R/N/D trains are crowded all through the rush hours, the M Trainis one train where you have nearly an 100% chance of getting a seat.
And, just as the W causes delays at Whitehall, the M has a nasty habit of arriving at 36th Street at the same time as the D train. The southbound (crowded) D train is always given priority and the M waits on the local platform, blocking the more crowded Bay Ridge bound R train.
The south Brooklyn M train should be eliminated, but some of the resulting savings should be used to re-establish the Chambers Street Special, running from 95th Street to Chambers Street during morning and evening rush hours. This would alleviate the current overcrowding on the R train, would proactively address the greater overcrowding that will take place on R trains from 36th and Borough Hall if the M/W are eliminated and nothing takes their place, and does not involve unnecessary crossovers from one track to another.
The M train never made sense as it ran in south Brooklyn. Running it along the West End line was evidently done for the convenience of the Transit Authority ( who can run empty southbound trains right into the Coney Island yards ) and never made sense as far as respects passenger flows or operational efficiency for most of the route.
Don't Even Think of Getting Rid of the Third Avenue Bus
The B37 bus runs faster than the sluggish Fifth Avenue bus. If you take it all the way to downtown Brooklyn, you'll see that lots of people use it, especially older people who are nervous about taking the crowded subway or who have a hard time navigating the subway steps.
If this service is removed, the entire Third Avenue corridor that runs under the creaking horror that is the Gowanus Expressway will be turned into a lifeless desert. Elimination of the Third Avenue Bus cannot be considered.
If cuts must be made, Bay Ridge and Brooklyn must do their fair share. And this is as good a time as any to rethink some routes, such as the M train and the X27 bus that were never properly thought out.
Every route must be justified, and we can't tolerate buses or trains that run empty on a regular basis. But, even in the context of budget cuts, a smart administration should be able to add new routes such as the Chambers Street special that remedy long standing flaws in the system.