Day one: Bay Ridge Avenue closure causes nightmare commute

Crammed commuters: Hundreds of Southern Brooklynites packed into buses now that the Bay Ridge Avenue stop is closed for the next six months.
Brooklyn Daily
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Talk about a train wreck!

The 59th Street R train station was inundated with straphangers during Monday morning’s rush hour now that the Bay Ridge Avenue and the 53rd Street stations are shuttered for six months of construction. Commuters crammed into buses and hoofed it over to the 59th Street station where basically three stations worth of travelers converged. It was a stifling slog, said one straphanger.

“It was like being in a can of sardines,” said Bay Ridgite Julia Campbell, who was one among hundreds of travelers who hopped on the B9 to transfer for the R train at the 59th Street stop. “Everyone got on the bus because we really didn’t have any other options, so then there was a flood of people going into the station at once. I had to wait 20 minutes just to refill my MetroCard.”

Bay Ridge Avenue and 53rd Street are the first of 31 subway stops getting gussied up as part of Gov. Cuomo’s initiative to upgrade the transit system. The 53rd Street stop closed on March 27, followed by Bay Ridge Avenue on April 30 — displacing nearly 16,000 MetroCard users who swipe into the stations on a given weekday, according to Metropolitan Transportation Authority data.

But the authority’s bus division decided that shuttle buses aren’t necessary, and neither is a boost to existing bus lines, including the B9, B37, and B63, according to a transit rep at a Jan. 12 meeting of Community Board 10’s transportation committee. The result was a crush of commuters at 59th Street and sluggish bus service, said one passenger.

“A 12-minute walk to Bay Ridge Avenue turned into a 50-minute bus ride to 59th Street. I could have walked and made it to the train faster,” said Bay Ridgite Jessy Bustos. “The driver had to keep stopping, there were people waiting at every single stop for the bus. And there was a bus in front of us filled with people, too.”

Some straphangers were stuck waiting up to 30 minutes for the B9. Some gave up and started walking over to 59th Street. Others were driven by Council hopeful Liam McCabe in his personal car, as he guns for term-limited Vincent Gentile’s (D–Bay Ridge) seat.

Reverend Khader El-Yateem, another Council candidate, held a press conference at a closed Bay Ridge Avenue entrance demanding shuttle buses, ramped up B9 service, and more transparency from the authority.

Adding to the chaos were a handful of leftover signs at 59th Street declaring, “Free line closure buses,” that were posted over the weekend when R train service was suspended from 36th Street to 95th Street, but were never taken down, said another frustrated commuter.

“It’s already hectic, why would they keep these signs up?” said Sunset Parker Danny Lopez. “I mean, to be fair it says, ‘Weekends,’ but when you’re in a hurry and see in big letters ‘Shuttle bus,’ you’re going to get off the train thinking there is a bus.”

Making matters even more confusing, some B9 buses had signs declaring “Shuttle bus,” raising more questions for commuters.

“Is this the B9 or a shuttle? Does this mean there’s always going to be a shuttle bus? Does it go all way up to 95th Street?” said Sunset Parker Selma Gerger. “This is just so unnecessarily stressful. I hope it’s not like this the entire time the station is closed.”

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 1:34 am, July 10, 2018
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Reader feedback

Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from BS, BK, NY, US, formerly from WB, BK, NY, US says:
Blame on Governor Cuomo for making his MTA, a state agency, to shut down the chosen stations on a day's notice, making people along the Brooklyn's R train scrambled for alternative public transit options while changing their own everyday morning routine.
May 2, 2017, 10:16 am
Ms. Me from Bay Ridge says:
This closure has been publicized for months including the closing date and that there would be no shuttle buses. Also, anyone with common sense doesn't buy the Metrocard on Monday morning. How do these people even have jobs? 53rd street has been closed for a month now and we've heard nary a peep about it.
May 2, 2017, 10:26 am
Fran from Bay Ridge says:
Where is Justin Brannan on this issue? When a donut shop opens in Bay Ridge he is the first one to go and take pictures but now that a real issue comes up he is nowhere to be found
May 2, 2017, 5:21 pm
Phantom from Bay Ridge says:
It's a minor pain, but people are getting used to it just fine.

There are a few more people taking the bus , but I think that most are walking to either 77th St. or 59 street.

A few squeaking wheels are making a bigger deal of this than is necessary
May 3, 2017, 8:21 pm
Nicole says:
I agree with Phantom at 8:21 pm. Human beings adapt quickly. We are a very resilient bunch so chaos should not be assumed. I do want to thank Justin Brennan for all his help on this issue and keeping us informed about the closure and the various moving parts of contingency plans.
May 8, 2017, 12:34 pm

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