The Restore the B37 Coalition, an extensive grassroots alliance of local residents, workers, businesses, community groups, elected officials, and TWU Local 100 members along the Third Avenue Corridor in Brooklyn will gather on Saturday, June 15th, at 11AM at Martin Luther Playground in Sunset Park to demand that the MTA re-instate the B37. The mass rally represents a milestone in the coalition’s three-year efforts to unite the communities of Downtown Brooklyn, Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Gowanus, Red Hook, Sunset Park, and Bay Ridge in support of restoring the bus line.
“I am 77 year old activist who uses a walker. I have always used mass transit to live my life and that is what MTA has taken away,” said Violeta Maya, a community activist since 1949, and co-founder of the Restore the B37 Bus Coalition. “The MTA must restore this bus line for me and the people in our community that use it to get to work, health services, school and places of worship.”
In 2010, the B37 was one of five local bus lines that were reduced or eliminated in Southwest Brooklyn, resulting in $2.8 million total savings for the MTA. While every service reduction negatively affected our communities, the loss of the B37 has been particularly harsh, disproportionately impacting the elderly, disabled, families, youth, and persons with chronic illnesses, who relied on the bus to access their health services, and to travel to city agencies in downtown Brooklyn.
Energized by the MTA’s $40 million surplus from the State Budget, the coalition organized the rally to amplify their demand that the MTA to finally bring back the B37. Restoring the line would cost only a small part of the MTA’s $2.8 million savings from 2010.
“Albany gave the MTA $40 million more than it asked this year. It only makes sense to use some of this money to restore services that were cut back in 2010 – starting with the B37,” said Councilman Vincent J. Gentile. “The B37 was absolutely vital to the people of Bay Ridge and beyond. It was our neighborhood’s connection to Sunset Park, Park Slope, Lutheran Hospital and downtown Brooklyn. And now with the news that the Montague tunnel will be closed for the next 14 months, our communities deserve every other option and alternative possible. It’s hard enough as it is for residents of Southern Brooklyn who travel to other boroughs each day via public transportation. The MTA must prioritize service restorations first and foremost!”
The Restore the B37 Bus Coalition has tremendous unified support across Brooklyn:
John Samuelsen, President, TWU Local 100: “The MTA’s surplus, due partly to increased revenue from dedicated transit taxes, reflects our improving economy. As our economy rebounds, it is even more critical that our communities have reliable, affordable transit services, so everyone can fully participate in the growth of our city. The MTA should prioritize service restorations in its plans to spend its surplus.”
Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny: “When the MTA fails to provide bus service which can accommodate the needs of the sick, elderly, and others in need of assistance, it hurts everyone in the community. People who depend on bus service find their mobility restricted when those services are cut. This is unfair to taxpayers who pay for public transportation but are no longer able to use it. It is also unfair to businesses who lose customers from those who ride buses, employers who lose workers, people who need to get to schools or the doctor’s office, and people who don’t drive. The MTA and other policymakers need to understand that any of us could be in need of public transportation, and just the extent to which communities build their lives around the availability of these services.”
Carlo A. Scissura, President & CEO, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce: “The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce supports the work of the B37 Bus coalition as we all strive to get improved mass transit for all part of Brooklyn. The B37 bus was vital in moving residents from Southwest Brooklyn, allowing them to travel Downtown easily and rapidly. It allowed people to get to work on weekdays and to shop on weekends. The MTA must restore B37 service now!”