On Wednesday, December 19th, the MTA presented its proposal for a Greenpoint/Williamsburg waterfront bus route to CB 1 members and several urban activists and residents at CB 1’s Transportation Committee meeting,
“This is one of five proposals to restore transportation throughout the city,” said the MTA’s Andrew Inglesby, stating that the organization had been given a budget of $1.5 million for the proposed service. Seeking to address less than satisfactory public transportation in Greenpoint and Williamsburg, the proposed route will serve as an alternate means of traveling between the two neighborhoods.
Starting at Broadway – a hub for buses as well as the J, M, and Z trains – the proposed route will run along Kent Avenue and continue onto Franklin Street. At Green Street, it will turn to McGuinness Boulevard, cross the Pulaski Bridge, and head down 11th Street to its last stop in Long Island City. There, it will connect to the E, M, G, and 7 lines. According to City Planner Dorian Statom, who presented the proposal with Inglesby, the exact bus stops have not yet been determined, but promise will provide close access to all those trains.
As the route turns back towards Brooklyn, it will travel down 21st Street, switch over to Jackson Avenue, cross the Pulaski to McGuinness, and go across Freeman Street, then travel once again on Franklin. Because Kent is one-way, the bus would then cross over and traverse Wythe Avenue all the way down to Broadway. “There it will connect to eight bus routes, as well as the J, M, and Z trains,” said Statom. “We want to hit as many subway stops as possible, and as directly as possible.”
The proposed service also strives to travel as close to the Williamsburg/Greenpoint waterfront as possible. “Kent…Wythe and…Franklin are the closest waterfront streets we can take, and they’re in a good condition to handle bus service,” said Statom. “The Freeman and Green Street pair is the farthest north we could get before taking the Pulaski Bridge.”
Community members raised few objections. One member of the audience was concerned that the route might reduce G Train service (which is already suffering) but Inglesby assured residents the line would not be affected. Several residents also expressed concerns that the bus route was not long enough. Some asked if it could be extended even further into other boroughs, or at the very least, down to the Navy Yard. Inglesby stated that unfortunately the budget does not allow for extensions.
“I don’t have a crystal ball to see how this will play out, or if there will be an increase in ridership for us to consider an extension,” explained Inglesby. “But we’re excited about what we’ve planned so far.”
With the waterfront having become a hotspot for commercial and residential development, the proposed route is a necessity. Although buses like the B24, B62, and Q59 provide partial service, there are currently no lines that travel along the North Brooklyn waterfront to Long Island City. Residents are relieved, since many have been calling for this project for decades.
“We’ve wanted a bus route going down the waterfront for a very loooong time,” said Wilfredo Florentino, Chair of the Transportation Committee. “In the sixties, my mom talked about wanting a route along Kent Avenue, and people have wanted it even when Kent…was just factories.”
The four members of the Transportation Committee present unanimously voted for the proposal, but many more meetings are to come before the route becomes reality. “After we hear from all the elected officials, we hope to have a definitive proposal…by the end of January,” said Inglesby. “We’d like to have a public hearing for the route in February, and after the nitty gritty […] we’re looking to having the route implemented by September 2013.”