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MTA to slash service on Brooklyn’s busiest bus route, which serves some of the city’s poorest residents

2019-09-19

The MTA on Thursday announced that it will be cutting service on one of the city’s busiest bus routes in an effort to save money.

Riders who use the B46 select bus, which runs primarily along Brooklyn’s Utica Ave. through low-income neighborhoods like East Flatbush and Bedford-Stuyvesant, will see significantly longer wait times this winter.

With more than 38,000 daily riders, the B46 select and local bus routes are the busiest in Brooklyn, and the second busiest in the entire city, according to Metropolitan Transportation Authority statistics.

Starting in late January, the MTA will run 12 buses per hour on the route during its evening rush period instead of 20. During the middle of the day, they’ll run six or seven buses instead of 10 per hour.

Weekend and late night service on the B46 select bus will also get hit.

The MTA will send out eight or nine buses per hour on the route during the evenings, down from 12. The agency will run six buses per hour for most of the weekends — the route currently runs as many as 10 per hour.

All of this adds up to significantly longer wait times and more crowded bus stops for B46 bus riders.

The changes will save the MTA $2.4 million per year, according to a press release from the agency. The MTA board will vote on the cuts next week.

The agency also said in the release that it will run longer articulated buses to handle larger loads of passengers who will be stuck waiting in line at stops along the route.

The MTA currently has at least 32 articulated buses at its Flatbush depot that are only used by the B44 and B46 select bus routes.

Transit officials further claimed in the release that cutting bus service will help “reduce congestion while increasing efficiency of each articulated bus.”

Agency representatives declined to provide an analysis that shows reducing the frequency of buses will actually reduce congestion.

“Fewer vehicles on streets speaks for itself as a reduction in traffic,” said MTA spokeswoman Amanda Kwan.

The cuts drew the ire of transit advocates and elected officials, who on Thursday morning held a rally to decry the service cuts.

“Thousands of riders on a bus mean thousands of fewer vehicles on the street,” said Riders Alliance spokesman Danny Pearlstein. “Buses and bus riders are not who we should be looking at to reduce congestion.”

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams was incensed when he caught wind of the MTA’s plan to cut service on the B46.

“Adding articulated buses is a positive that shouldn’t be balanced on the negative of increased headways,” Adams said. “For the busiest bus route in Brooklyn, a route that is a primary transit artery for many underserved commuters, this could be problematic.”

MTA Chairman Pat Foye said last month that service cuts were coming down the pipe, not only for buses but also for the subway. The agency’s deficit is expected to balloon to $1 billion by 2023 and officials are desperate to save money, according to Foye.

“We are laser-focused on squeezing every ounce of savings we can get,” Foye said at an August meeting of the MTA board. “We are reviewing the possibility of new subway and bus service adjustments in the fall starting as soon as the September [board] meeting.”