Let’s talk about the B82, the Kings Highway-Flatlands Avenue crosstown bus..
The B82 bus route is a culmination of the old B5 Kings Highway/Bay Parkway bus route and the old B50 Kings Highway/Flatlands Avenue bus route, both consolidated in the late 1990s. The B5 ran from Bay 38th Street/Cropsey Avenue to Kings Highway near Flatbush Avenue, with connections to the current (D) train at Bay Parkway, the (F) at Kings Highway/McDonald Ave, the (N) at Kings Highway/West 7th Street, and the current (B) and (Q) trains at Kings Highway/East 16th Street. The B50 ran from Kings Highway/Coney Island Avenue to Starrett City in Spring Creek, with connections to the (B) and (Q) trains at Kings Highway/East 16th Street and the (L) train at Rockaway Parkway. The two routes overlapped on Kings Highway between Coney Island Avenue and Flatbush Avenue, allowing rider to choose a bus route in the overlapped portions. However, with many people travelling from subway lines other than the B and Q trains, this often meant transferring at Coney Island Avenue to continue their trip. If you were coming from Downtown Brooklyn or northern Brooklyn, the easy solution was to get over to the Q train and take the B50, but if you were coming from southwestern Brooklyn, the shortest way to Canarsie would be to transfer to the B5 and then transfer again to the B50 which was, in the days before Metrocard, a two-fare ride. To eliminate the two-fare zones, the two routes were consolidated into the B82 bus route.
In order to make it easier to get across southern Brooklyn, even after the Metrocard was introduced in 1994 and free transfers between subways and buses was implemented in 1998, the B82 was extended south on Cropsey Avenue to Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue Station, with connections to the B36 and B74 buses from Sea Gate. Prior to the B82 extension, those wishing to go from the Coney Island projects and the Sea Gate community to anywhere else in South Brooklyn would have to rely on the B36 to locations east of Stillwell Avenue and transfer to the B1, B4, B44, or B49 buses. To go any further would require a second transfer to another bus or a transfer to the subway, which isn’t possible if you pay on the bus with coins. Thus, having a Metrocard with bus-to-subway transfer capabilities is paramount. That goes double for those with disabilities who cannot ride the subway or do not qualify for MTA Paratransit a.k.a. Access-A-Ride service. So, the two-fare zone was reduced from the western half of the B82 line to the little slither that is the current extension of the B82 line.
Now that we have a bus route that runs all the way from Coney Island to Spring Creek (touching Bensonhurst, Midwood, Flatlands, and Canarsie), the problem now is that such a long line means more buses required to operate the line, more scheduling hassles to be dealt with, and more problems keeping the buses on time. The B82 operates primarily on Cropsey Avenue, Bay Parkway, Kings Highway, and Flatlands Avenue. All of these streets are fairly wide and traffic on those streets move fairly smoothly and quickly. Well, let’s take a look at Kings Highway, since it’s a special case. Kings Highway is either very wide or very narrow, depending on the location. From east of Ocean Avenue to Flatbush Avenue (and beyond), Kings Highway has a main road and a service road, much like Queens Blvd in Queens, the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, or Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn. Once you travel west of Ocean Avenue, the service road merges with the main road, allows traffic to choose between continuing on Kings Highway and diverging onto Avenue P, and then narrows to become a shopping district road. This narrowing of Kings Highway goes on from Ocean Avenue all the way to Bay Parkway. With the street being one-way in either direction and metered parking on both sides, this once wide boulevard of tree-lined streets and fast-moving traffic becomes a slow-going shopper’s delight. Good news for business, bad news for buses. Bad news for buses because traffic trying to get in and out of parking spaces, and taxi lines for those who don’t drive, is the main hold-up for buses in either direction. The worst of it is between Coney Island Avenue and Ocean Avenue, where all the more popular local business are and the site of numerous passengers transferring between the B82 and other buses such as the B2 and B100 and the B and Q trains at East 16th Street. This section of Kings Highway can be considered the single choke point on the entire B82 bus line, since every bus has to travel through this section of Kings Highway in order to continue in either direction.
Even though there are passengers transferring from the F train at McDonald Avenue and the N train at West 7th Street, there are quite a number of passengers transferring to the B and Q trains at East 16th Street trying to go further east. What can further slow down the line is towards the ends, with people transferring to/from the D train at Bay Parkway/86th Street towards the western end of the line, and people transferring to/from the L train at Rockaway Parkway towards the eastern end of the line. The issue at Rockaway Parkway is that in both directions, the B82 has to deviate from Flatlands Avenue to serve the subway, since the station is at Rockaway Parkway/Glenwood Road. It is a major shopping district in the Canarsie section and a major transfer point between the L train and various other buses besides the B82. This is because the L train is the only train in Canarsie and other subway lines are at least two miles away. This is what is considered a “transit desert” since, even though there are numerous bus lines around the neighborhood, the neighborhood is only served by one subway line which doesn’t even cover half of the neighborhood. The Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT), the predecessor Brooklyn Rapid Transit company (BRT), the former Canarsie Railroad bought out by the BMT, or the Brooklyn and Rockaway beach Railroad ran trains all the way down to Canarsie Pier with three stations, but only until just after World War II.
In 2010, Limited-Stop service began on the B82, albeit during rush hours, to make trips faster for those traveling nearly from end to end. There’s only one problem: Limited and local buses all still have to travel in a pack through the area of Kings Highway between Coney Island Avenue and Ocean Avenue with all of the shopping customers and livery cabs. It doesn’t help that, between Flatbush Avenue and the B/Q train station, the B7 also provides service during the rush hours, since customer in that corridor apparently also want service up to Bedford-Stuyvesant and Brownsville. The B7 runs from Bed-Stuy to Flatbush Avenue all day, then extends down Kings Highway to the B/Q trains during peak hours. So, now you have all the B82 locals, B82 Limiteds that were originally locals, extra B82 Limited buses to keep up with the demand, and B7 buses that make the extra stops to Coney Island Avenue in the mix. I am not sure if anything will ever reduce the congestion in that area, unless they want to try an offset bus lane approach similar to the M60 SBS or the staggered bus lane approach tried on the M34/M34A SBS. My worry is that once you factor in street width and the amount of metered parking, there won’t be any room for a bus lane, let alone delivery windows, as first implemented with the BX12 SBS, or taxi stand areas, something not widely implemented in this city. I would say that the only idea that comes to mind to even remotely provide relief is closing East 16th Street between Kings Highway and Quentin Road to general traffic to allow B100 buses and livery cabs to pick up and discharge in designated stands. This could potentially free up congestion under the Kings Highway Station overpass structure for buses and through traffic. What could also work is establishing bus loading zones at bus stops either by concrete bus pads as applied in much of the city or by rectangle markings with a “X” like done at bus stops on Bergenline Avenue in Union City, NJ. It could potential ward off people that might park close to a bus stop in order for them to be closer to a particular storefront. Aside from that, there isn’t much that could be done in the area that won’t upset drivers or shop owners.
The only other thing worth noting is that when the B82 Limited is running, the B82 local does not travel over the full route. That is because south of Cropsey and east of the L train, the B82 Limited makes all local stops. People coming from Spring Creek wishing to go to other subway lines and people coming from Coney Island traveling to Canarsie can get on at any stop and get dropped off at major stops without having to transfer to a local bus. This is especially important because if SBS were to be implemented on the B82, it would be a full-time, seven-day-a-week service with potentially less stops than the Limited it replaced. So we are looking at a few possible scenarios:
- The B82 SBS will make select stops between Coney Island and Spring Creek, from at least 6am to 9pm, seven days a week. The B82 local will make all local stops between Coney Island and Spring Creek, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (An active example of this service pattern would be the Bx41 SBS.)
- The B82 SBS will make select stops between Coney Island and Spring Creek, from at least 6am to 9pm, seven days a week. Being that there isn’t very many stops between Cropsey Avenue and Coney Island, the B82 local will make all local stops between Cropsey Avenue and Spring Creek from 6am to 9pm. At all other times, the B82 will make all local stops between Coney Island and Spring Creek.
- The B82 SBS will make select stops between Coney Island and Spring Creek, from at least 6am to 9pm, seven days a week. The B82 local will make all local stops between Cropsey Avenue and Rockaway Parkway Station from 6am to 9pm every day, while making all local stops on the full route at all other times. B82 stops east of the L train will be consolidated to make the route faster. (An active example of this service pattern would be the B44 SBS, which serves the Williamsburg Bridge Plaza during the day and is replaced by the B44 local after hours.)
- The B82 SBS will make select stops between Coney Island and Rockaway Parkway Station from 6am to 9pm, seven days a week. The B82 local will make all local stops between Coney Island and Spring Creek at all times. (This service pattern is similar to what will be done with the B46 SBS once it gets implemented.)
There can possibly be some variations to any of these scenarios with regards to how the B82 local and SBS may be run, but this isn’t to say that any one of these is better than any other. I can see Scenario #1 likely happening, though #2 is possible being that there isn’t that many stops past Cropsey Avenue and that most people getting on the bus at Coney Island would want service to the south shore (Flatlands, Canarsie, etc) retained. Scenario #3 assumes that the dozen or so stops past Rockaway Parkway going eastbound will only need SBS service to Midwood and Coney Island, while still maintaining service to the L train. This means that anyone wanting specific local stops on Flatlands Avenue or Kings Highway must transfer to the local bus at Rockaway Parkway. Scenario #4 is like #3, but Spring Creek gets no SBS service and those who are traveling longer distances are forced on the local. Their options would be to stay on the local for the entire trip or take a chance to save some time by transferring to an SBS bus. A fifth scenario would involve the B82 SBS to operate the full route and the B82 only operate from Cropsey Avenue to Rockaway Parkway during the day (the B82 local would run the full route at night). This would allow longer-distance riders access to faster service and both SBS and local service in the core of the route. Depending on the rider statistical data on the line, this SBS line might be a heavy-hitter or a dud, but going solely off of ridership observations, I would rather see either Scenario 1 or Scenario 3, both allowing the SBS to run the full route and the local to run the full route either all the time or just during the hours that SBS isn’t running.