A New Bus Route for Brooklyn: Fighting to Revive the B71 With A New Link to Lower Manhattan

A New Bus Route for Brooklyn: Fighting to Revive the B71 With A New Link to Lower Manhattan

October 13, 2017

BROOKLYN, NY -- Today, the B71+ Coalition, made up of elected officials, community leaders, transportation advocates, and Brooklyn residents called upon the Department of Transportation and MTA to revive the cross-Gowanus B71 bus with a new link through Red Hook to Lower Manhattan.

The B71 was a lifeline for seniors, students, and families along the Union Street corridor. It was eliminated by as part of system-wide budget cuts in 2010. Despite the economic recovery, the line was never restored, leaving riders stranded despite significant population growth along the route. Meanwhile, nearby residents of Red Hook remain in a transit desert, despite physical proximity to Manhattan.

To address these problems, riders are calling for a new B71+. The new route would:    

  • Provide a new connection from Red Hook to Lower Manhattan:  Red Hook is not served by any subway stop, and only by two local Brooklyn bus routes. A direct connection between Red Hook and Manhattan would make 90,000 more jobs accessible for Red Hook commuters within a one-hour transit zone.

  • Connect students, seniors, families, NYCHA residents, and people with disabilities to schools, businesses and cultural institutions:  Nine schools, three senior centers, multiple public housing developments, and some of Brooklyn’s best cultural centers would be served by this new route, which will bring better access and increased mobility to the students, aging communities and families of Red Hook, Columbia Waterfront, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Gowanus, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, and Crown Heights.

  • Serve a growing population: Since the discontinuation of the B71, the population around the proposed new route has grown by 10.7%, much more than the increase in New York City or Brooklyn alone. This increase in the still-growing population has fed a demand for more transit, and even greater growth (and transit demand) may result from rezoning in Gowanus.

The coalition after the kick-off rally will be pushing a petition to deliver to the the DOT and MTA. So far, they’ve amassed over 1,300+ signatures since the initial announcement on Tuesday, October 10, 2017. You can find the petition & full list of coalition partners here.


(Proposed Route for B71+)

“Every time I visit the Eileen Duggan Senior Center, seniors tell me they can’t get to the supermarket on 5th Avenue, to the Botanic Garden or the Brooklyn Museum,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “At the Brooklyn New School or MS51, parents and students tell me there’s no good way to get to school. There’s no way from the Columbia Waterfront up to Grand Army Plaza, or from Red Hook to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. And there’s no bus or train from Red Hook to Lower Manhattan, despite how close they are. The B71+ would solve all those problems and more. It would restore a lifeline for tens of thousand of Brooklyn residents.”

"Public transportation is the lifeblood of New York City. It is the means by which we are connected as a community. Our friends and neighbors in Red Hook live in a transit desert with no subway stop, and a cancelled bus route, despite a growing population and growing need,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca. “The proposed B71+ Bus Route is an essential part of making Red Hook accessible to the rest of the city. This new bus route has the potential to offer Red Hook residents access to thousands of jobs in Manhattan. Coupled with other achievements, such as the Red Hook Ferry we brought earlier this year, we are finding better ways to connect New York City that are better for the environment than dependence on cars. The need is clear for adding this bus route, and I wholeheartedly support it."

"Our Brooklyn neighborhoods lost a vital connector when the MTA eliminated the B71 bus line seven years ago. It’s long past 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 lower Manhattan through a new B71+ bus route would provide a great 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. Now is the time to make this happen,” said Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon.

"I'm proud to be a member of the growing coalition to revive the B71 bus route, a call I've had alongside my colleagues in government over the last couple years of community organizing, as well as to extend it with a new link through transit-starved Red Hook to Lower Manhattan. Quality east-west bus service is critical for Brooklynites of all stripes, from seniors to students, and the commuting challenges they face is only intensifying as our population continues to grow," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

“Communities flourish when they are connected,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “Unfortunately, many neighborhoods have been left behind when it comes to access to transportation. When the B71 bus route was taken away, it left an already transportation-challenged area in a precarious situation. The needs of the communities along the corridor have only increased since that time. Enough waiting. Get on board with this plan and we'll be one step closer to fair transportation for all New Yorkers."

“I stand with my colleagues and constituents to call for the restoration and expansion of the B71 bus route. Access to public transportation is vital for everyday New Yorkers to safely travel to and from home, school, work, house of worship, small businesses, and public spaces. In order for our communities to continually thrive, we must ensure that our transit system keeps pace with the unprecedented growth throughout the borough of Brooklyn. It is time to reconnect families, professionals, scholars, seniors, and youth to their community and city,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo.   

"Red Hook Initiative fully supports the campaign to bring back the B71+ bus route. Red Hook's lack of adequate transportation options impacts accessibility to school, employment, and other key resources for the community. The new and improved B71+ route will provide a much needed connection for Red Hook residents to transit hubs and an accessible link to Manhattan,said Jill Eisenhard, Executive Director at Red Hook Initiative.

"The new, improved B71+ will restore an important east-west transit link for several Brooklyn neighborhoods, while creating a new, direct commuting option for Red Hook residents working – or seeking work – in Lower Manhattan. With subway service in crisis and congestion worse than ever, the MTA must provide New Yorkers with innovative travel options like the B71+ without delay,” said Eric McClure, Co-Founder of Park Slope Neighbors and Executive Director of StreetsPAC.

“Prospect Park Alliance is supportive of the proposed B71+ bus route,” said Prospect Park Alliance President Sue Donoghue. “Millions of Brooklynites visit Prospect Park every year for recreation and relaxation. Expanded transit options will improve their ability to access the Park, as well as the Borough’s other great cultural institutions.”

“There’s a reason that Park Slope has the word slope in it’s name.  It slopes down from the Park.  Which is fine when one is young and/or able-bodied.  But add bad knees or hips, arthritis, vascular or lung disease and what seems to many to be a short walk from Fifth or Seventh Avenue shopping corridors to the more residential Eighth Ave and Prospect Park West becomes an impossibility,” said Judy Willig, Executive Director of Heights and Hills. “When we lost the B71 bus, not only did we lose inter-neighborhood transportation between Carroll Gardens and Park Slope and Prospect Heights, but many lost the ability to shop, go to a restaurant or to the bank on their own within their own neighborhood. Especially in a neighborhood where there are no elevators at the 9th St. F station or the Grand Army Plaza Station, many older people who cannot climb all those subway steps lost their independence. Bringing back an enhanced B 71 would add to the quality of life of the growing older population that wants to remain in their homes in the communities they helped to build.”

"Buses are a lifeline for New Yorkers who don't have easy access to the subway network, as well as a smart way to expand transit access so that more New Yorkers can find work, go to school and participate in the life of the community. Brooklyn residents are still feeling the loss of the B71 and other bus service that was reduced or eliminated when the State fell short on its commitment to fund the MTA, and we appreciate Council Member Lander and dedicated community activists who are working to improve buses, not just in Brooklyn but all over the city," said Stephanie Burgos-Veras, community organizer at the Riders Alliance.  

“When the B71 was taken away, it was a huge loss for seniors in this neighborhood,” says Carol Reid-Rembert, Program Director at the Eileen Dugan Senior Center in Carroll Gardens. “Bringing it back and bringing it to Manhattan would be a huge win.”

"Brooklyn Community Board 6 heartily supports the B-71+ and thanks Council Member Lander for his leadership in fighting to bring back an important linkage within the district, but also seeking to enhance it by connecting it across the river into Lower Manhattan," said BKCB-6 Chair, Sayar Lonial.  "Additional transportation options help create a better quality of life for both our residents and businesses alike."

“The B71+ would provide Red Hook with additional economic resiliency - access to a larger labor pool for local firms; a convenient commuting option for a growing neighborhood workforce; and more access to quality job opportunities for residents. It would be a significant asset to a wide variety of firms and industries showing  interest in Southwest Brooklyn,” said Ben Margolis, Executive Director at Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation.

“Today’s picture of Brooklyn’s waterfront, and surrounding areas, is not the same as it was seven years ago. As Brooklyn continues to see more job growth, it needs to keep moving people to and from work and home. We need to make sure the MTA has the resources it needs to bring back the B71. This is one transit solution for connecting our employers, employees, seniors, students, and every population in between, to get where they need to go in order to continue to drive the borough’s economy,” said Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Andrew Hoan.

“Brooklyn Children’s Museum and our fellow cultural institutions are committed to serving all Brooklynites. Expanded B71 service will bring visitors from Red Hook, Gowanus and other neighborhoods to Prospect Park, Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Botanic Garden and right to the doors of Brooklyn Children’s Museum. We welcome all efforts to promote public transportation and make Brooklyn’s cultural institutions accessible to as many families as possible,” said Stephanie Hill Wilchfort, President & CEO, Brooklyn Children’s Museum.     

 

"Reviving the B71 is transportation equity. The B71 closes the gap in services that have traditionally impacted our most underserved New Yorkers,” said Teka-Lark Lo, Brooklyn Organizer for Transportation Alternatives. “The B71 won't be just a bus line, but a lifeline. It will be a lifeline for people with disabilities, people who live in NYCHA, and for people who live in an alternative transit desert. Everyone in New York deserves access to not just school and work, but to the many great cultural institutions that are in New York."

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