As commuters returned to the work week today, straphangers at the 15th Street-Prospect Park station were faced with a dilemma: either walk six blocks and an avenue in freezing sleet to catch the northbound F or G at Seventh Avenue, or double back to Church Avenue to catch Manhattan and Queens-bound trains.
But Councilmember Brad Lander may have a solution to the problem.
“Thousands rely on the subway, offering a decent alternative would make a difference to a lot of people,” said Lander, standing on the F/G platform early this morning, collecting petition signatures as commuters hopped the southbound train.
Yesterday, rehabilitation work began on the Culver Viaduct, which will suspend southbound train service at 15th Street-Prospect Park and Fort Hamilton Parkway until May, along with other .
Lander is petitioning the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York City Transit to temporarily extend the B68 bus route while service cuts are in affect.
The bus runs along Coney Island Avenue and Prospect Park Southwest and currently terminates at Bartel Pritchard Square, but Lander’s petition calls for extending the route to Eighth Avenue and Ninth Street.
The extension would give stranded straphangers at both 15th Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway an alternative to walking or heading southbound first in order to catch northbound trains, which commuters say can add long minutes to their commutes.
“This throws a monkey wrench into my whole program,” said Jimmy Gary, an actor who lives at nearby 11th Avenue. “This is a total inconvenience. And we’re just helpless.” Gary said he initially moved to the neighborhood because of the quick commute to Manhattan. He was one of many who signed Lander’s petition in the 15th Street station this morning.
Lander said that of the many suggestions for alternative transportation his office received, extending the B68 was the most frequent request. “This could be really useful to most people, and at a reasonable cost,” he said.
The petition drew volunteers to the platform as well, who worked collecting signatures alongside Lander beginning at 7 a.m.
“I grew up in New York in the 70s, and the subway service was terrible. There was no respect for the commuters. This is emblematic of the way the service was then,” said volunteer Jamie Silverstein, whose 14-year-old son now leaves an extra 45 minutes to ensure he’s on time for his classes at LaGuardia High School.
Approaching 9 a.m., Silverstein had already filled most of his signature pages.
“When you’ve got to get to Manhattan quickly, it’s just not going to happen,” he said. “Everybody I’ve asked to sign this has an epithet for the MTA.”
Straphangers can sign the petition online, here.