The Bus Bridge. No Easy Way Out

The line of people waiting to take the bus from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to midtown Manhattan wrapped all the way around the new arena. MetroFocus/ Georgia Kral

Day two of the ‘”bus bridge” connecting Brooklyn with midtown Manhattan was smoother than day one, according to several people waiting in the line at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Still, at 9 a.m., which on a normal day marks the end of rush hour, the line was wrapped a full city block around the brand new arena. The wait was approximately 20 minutes long.

One of three “bus bridge” staging areas in Brooklyn, this one drew thousands as it is next to the Long Island Railroad terminal at Atlantic Avenue and the Atlantic-Barclays Center subway hub. The bus service was attempting to make up for the lack of subway service between the two boroughs.

On Wednesday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced the bus bridge and many Brooklynites — and Long Islanders — were relieved to find out they could report to work on Thursday.

But despite a 300 buses,  Thursday brought excruciatingly long waits, terrible traffic and much annoyance. On Friday, things were moving a lot more smoothly. Most of the New Yorkers we spoke with had mostly good things to say about how the city was handling the transportation crisis.

The Barclays Center was one of three locations in Brooklyn where residents could board a bus for Manhattan. MetroFocus/Georgia Kral.

“In light of the situation, I think it’s not bad given the number of people here,” said Verona, a resident of Canarsie, Brooklyn, who did not want to give her last name.

Verona first traveled by bus from Canarsie to downtown Brooklyn. She said her commute, which usually takes an hour, was taking two hours now. Verona works at a bank in midtown, and said she couldn’t work from home because she wasn’t “senior level” enough for that. Because her mother’s place of business did not have power, she was able to stay home to care for Verona’s children.

“Thank God for that,” she said.

But if the commute to work was bad, the commute home was even worse. Verona said on Wednesday night she waited over an hour just to get on a bus back to Brooklyn.

“It was terrible,” she said. “It was just too many people.”

Courtney McEaddy was also in line for the bus Friday morning. She wasn’t going to work, she was “getting out of Dodge.”

After looping around the Barclays Arena in a line, passengers boarded the free "bus bridge" service at Atlantic Avenue.

After looping around the Barclays Arena in a line, passengers boarded the free "bus bridge" service at Atlantic Avenue. MetroFocus/Georgia Kral.

McEaddy lives in Canarsie, but her mother lives in Far Rockaway, an area that was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. McEaddy said her mother refused to evacuate, thinking this storm would be like last fall’s lackluster Hurricane Irene.

“I should have dragged her out by her hair! We thought it was gonna be no big deal! We were wrong,” said McEaddy. “The next time they give us an alert I’m gonna be on the first thing smokin’.”

McEaddy settled her mother in with her sister in a safe part of Brooklyn and was headed to the Bronx, where she planned to stay with a friend until the electricity came back on in the Rockaways.

Industrious business people sold coffee with QR codes on them for easy smart-phone purchasing. The radio station Hot 97 was giving out free Dunkin Donuts coffee at the Barclays Center bus staging area on Friday. MetroFocus/ Georgia Kral

“I’m trying to get somewhere where I can wash and be comfortable,” she said.

Joyce Li, a program officer at the Vilcek Foundation on the Upper East Side, also had to report to work this week. Her commute from Prospect Lefferts Gardens took three hours each way on Thursday.

“I spent six hours in the office and six hours commuting!” she said, adding that she hoped the subways would be back soon.

But regardless, she said the situation was handled well by the city.

“I really think they are trying,” she said. “The waiting is the hardest part.”


MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, The Peter G. Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney Fund, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, The Ambrose Monell Foundation, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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