Thursday, December 27, 2007

Blame bus for the trip down aisle


Thursday, December 27th 2007, 4:00 AM

These Brooklyn commuters are used to being taken for a ride - and not a fun one.

With fare and toll hikes looming, Bay Ridge residents are stuck taking express buses that are the wrong size on local routes.

"These buses are a nightmare," said Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann. "The aisles are too small. Seniors and moms with strollers, and residents with disabilities, are all saying this is unacceptable.

"These buses weren't meant for shoppers with bags or mothers with kids."

Beckmann says angry calls began flooding her office more than a year ago about the B1, which runs from Bay Ridge to Kingsborough College, and the B64, which runs from Coney Island to Bay Ridge.

Both buses make local stops but are still outfitted as express buses, which are equipped to hold more passengers for the longer rides into Manhattan.

Local buses generally hold fewer commuters, but provide more space to make it easier to handle the traffic from frequent stops.

"Residents feel cheated and aren't getting their money's worth," said Beckmann.

Diane Hunt, 62, who is disabled, agrees, and says the narrow center aisle is impossible for her to navigate.

"The middle aisle is the main problem, but another problem is that the seats are so close together that I have to sit with my legs in the aisle," said Hunt, who used to take the B1 from Bay Ridge to Sheepshead Bay before giving up. "These buses never should have been on this route in the first place."

Residents who had no problem walking even found the task of entering and exiting the bus tedious.

"The aisle is so narrow that it is just ridiculous," said the retired Fred Gilbo, who used to take the B1 from Bay Ridge to 14th Ave., where he worked for a telephone company.

"The MTA is quick to find the money to find raises for its big shots, but they can't find the money to get our bus problem fixed."

The Transit Authority is aware of the space problem and is working to give commuters a little more room, said spokesman Charles Seaton.

"We are in the process of retrofitting those buses to transit bus specifications," said Seaton. "That will include replacing the seats, which would create more room for passengers."

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