A Cemusa bus shelter on Manhattan’s East Side. Similar bus shelters have recently gone up along soon-to-be-axed routes in Brooklyn. (Photo by flickr user animalvegetable)
The bureaucracy in New York City is famed for its lack of interagency coordination. The MTA and Department of Transportation may cover similar ground, but prior to the last few years, the two agencies were rarely in tune with each other. Since Mayor Bloomberg has put forward his desire to make the city more pedestrian- and environmentally-friendly, NYCDOT and the MTA have been more cooperative. The recent Select Bus Service/Bus Rapid Transit plans are indicative of this effort, but now and then, the old bureaucratic mess reasserts itself.
Such was the case recently when Cemusa, the company that has contracted with the city to install bus shelters and newstands across the five boroughs, replaced some old bus stops along the B23 route on Courtelyou Road in Brooklyn. While the neighborhood appreciated the new shelters, there was one not-so-minor problem: In less than six months, the B23 will cease to exist as a bus. It is one of the lines slated for the impending service cuts. Oops.
James Barron of The Times covered this amusing story of bureaucratic snafus and transit woes recently. He writes:
Two bus shelters on Cortelyou Road in Brooklyn — one at Ocean Parkway, the other at East Fifth Street — were replaced this week with shiny new steel-and-glass structures that can keep passengers on the B23 bus line dry on rainy days and unmussed on windy ones.
But the B23 is one of six bus lines in Brooklyn that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority says it will eliminate unless it gets a financial lifeline from the State Legislature.
Asked why new shelters were being installed along a line that could soon disappear, Seth Solomonow, a spokesman for the Transportation Department, noted that the proposed service changes were not definite. “But we will postpone any further installations on affected routes until the situation is clarified,” he said.
Amusingly enough, the area’s residents had a better idea of what was going on than the Cemusa workers did — that is, until the new shelters popped up. “I figured they were just beginning to prepare for the service shutdown,” Antonio Rosario said to The Times. “This makes no sense.”
Of course, Cemusa has since halted shelter replacement along the doomed line, but I wonder what will become of the new shiny stops. They’ll sit there, bright and unused, until the MTA has the money and political capital to restore the cut services. They’ll sit there as a monument to services we have lost and a reminder of our State Senate’s unwillingness to support transit. How fitting.