Today’s news:

B-13 Bus Line’s Unlucky Number

The only bus that provides service directly to Wyckoff Heights Medical Center (374 Stockholm Street) may be cut by the MTA if the transportation agency’s proposals are adopted later this year.

On January 27, 2010, the MTA announced its revised service reductions proposal, which included the discontinuation of the B-13 bus line north of the Myrtle/ Wyckoff station because it is an “underutilized and duplicative” route.

MTA officials estimate that 1,200 weekday customers and 1,200 weekend customers would have to use the L train or the B-60 in place of the B-13, though service on the remaining portions of the route, which runs from Metropolitan and Graham Avenues in Williamsburg east to Spring Creek in Canarsie, would not be affected.

The news disturbed Betty Cooney, Executive Director of the Graham Avenue BID, who contacted Wyckoff Hospital officials and several local business owners whose customers and employees regularly use the bus line.

“The hospital didn’t even know that MTA was thinking of this,” said Cooney. “If you’re sick, elderly, or handicapped, you can’t get to it. The point is, if you want to go to the hospital and you take the train, handicapped accessible, now you can’t get to the hospital from that train. There’s no bus to take up there. That’s a very important point.”

In a letter to MTA Community Affairs Director Douglas Sussman, Wyckoff Hospital President and CEO Rajiv K. Garg noted that the entrances to the DeKalb L station on Stanhope and Stockholm streets are not complaint with the American Disability Act or designed for future ADA renovations. Garg asked the MTA to “reconsider and withdraw its proposal to shorten the B13 bus line” and “refrain from further service changes that would reduce or restrict access to the Hospital.”

New York City Transit referred comments to the MTA, where a spokesperson explained that the proposals for service changes would help close a $750 million budget shortfall due to a loss of revenue and accumulated cuts from the state.

“The Chairman is being clear that we’ve done everything we can to minimize impacts on our customers, but given the large size of our budget deficit, these are very difficult choices that we have to make,” said MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz.

In the meantime, community leaders and public officials vowed to work with the MTA to restore the proposed cuts before they become permanent. Council member Diana Reyna (D-Williamsburg) said the MTA must “not make drastic choices” that would affect thousands of riders and that she will ask them to reconsider their reasoning for closing the B-13.

State Senate Transportation Chair Martin Dilan (D-Williamsburg), whose district includes the B-13 line, is reviewing the MTA’s proposal to see what will ultimately be done. Dilan spokesperson Graham Parker indicated that the plan is still evolving and that the route reductions are not set in stone, but “if there’s no scheduled stop in front of the hospital, our office would have an issue.”

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