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From the old BusTalk (November 12, Brooklyn bus changes)

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Joined: 10 May 2007
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PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2007 11:49 am    Post subject: From the old BusTalk (November 12, Brooklyn bus changes) Reply with quote

This was posted by "BrooklynBus" on November 12, 2006, and I saved it locally.

28th Anniversary of the Southwest Brooklyn Bus Rouite Changes - Nov 12, 1978

Today, November 12, 2006 (which also was a Sunday) marks the 28th anniversary of the most sweeping bus route changes to the NYC bus system, the Southwest Brooklyn bus route changes which went into effect in 1978. That date marked the introduction of the new B1 bus route from Bay Ridge to Kingsborough College. Previously it began at 25th Avenue and was routed through Sheepshead Bay Station. (The remainder of the present B1 was numbered the B34.) It also saw the extension of the B4 from 25 Ave to Knapp Street and the rerouting of the B36 from Neptune Avenue to Avenue Z and the discontinuation of the B21. (The special school service to Bay Academy on Neptune Avenue from Coney Island is a remnant of the old B36.)

The B11 was extended from 18th Avenue to Rockaway Parkway and later cutback to Brooklyn College. Also, the B50 Flatlands Avenue route (now the B82 after it was combined with the B5) was introduced and the B3 lengthened from 86 Street to Ulmer Park Depot to replace the B4 and B34 along 25 Av. The B49 was rerouted to pass Sheepshead Bay Station to replace the B1. The B74 was rerouted to Surf Avenue and moved back to Mermaid Avenue two months later due to community protest. All this was done on the same day. There was massive confusion at Sheepshead Bay Station for several days due to poor public information and unreadable maps since every route was changed.

I'm probably the only one who remembers this historic event since I was mostly responsible for it occurring, working hard for four years to get it done.

In the late 1980s, changes were made to approximately ten Queens bus routes on the same day. But these changes did not have the same impact as the Brooklyn changes, since many only involved changes to terminal loops at Jamaica.

I would be happy to answer any questions you may have about the Southwest Brooklyn Bus changes. Since most of these ideas did not originate at the TA, but at the Department of City Planning where I was working at the time, it is not even recognized in any NYCT literature listing important dates in New York City Transit History.


There are nice histories of the Brooklyn trolleys. But I don't recall a history of Brooklyn bus routes. I saw a simplified one on the internet, but it was full of errors. You are mostly right about the low numbers but it is not that simple. There were more changes than you realize that got lost in history. Much of this was told to me by a friend.

Basically, south of Church Avenue, all the trolley routes operated only in a north/south direction. With the development of southern Brooklyn in the 1930s and 40s a genuine need developed for east/west service. Since no one was willing to lay any new trolley tracks, jitneys and small 20 passenger buses filled this need, many as illegal services much like the illegal vans we have today. I know for a fact that is how the B14 Pitkin Avenue bus got started. Eventually they were legitimized and absorbed into the BQT and BMT. Over the years, the success of these routes caused larger buses to be operated -- 30 passenger, 40 passenger, etc.

The B16 always operated as a bus route with the Shore Road and Ocean Avenue portions starting later. Ft Hamilton Parkway was never a trolley.

The early bus routes began operating between the early 1920's and 1930's. The B prefix was added later so I will not use any prefixes here because some of the routes had suffixes. Below is a concise history pre-1978.

The 1-B operated from Coney Island Ave along Brighton Beach Av and Oriental Blvd to Oxford St. In 1936 it was extended to Brighton 3 St and returned to Coney Island Ave along Oceanview Av. (In 1946 became the southern portion of the "new" B21.)

The 1-C operated from Ocean Pkway and Av Y (return on Av X I think, to E 14 St to Sheepshead Bay Rd to Emmons Av to Knapp St. (In 1946 became the northern portion of the "new" B21.

The 1-A (which started last) was the old B1 from Sheepshead Bay Station to Oxford St. (current portion of the B49).

The 2 operated from Avenue U along Flatbush Avenue until Floyd Bennett Field. In June 1936, it was extended south over the newly completed Marine Parkway Bridge to Riis Park and north and west to Kings Highway Station of the Brighton Line. Sometime later it was cut back to Avenue U with the southern portion turned over to Green Bus Lines and the northern terminal extended to Flatbush / Nostrand and in the Rockways to B 116 St.

The 3-A along Ave U from 25 Av to Flatbush Av. The 3-B was the present B31. Later extended to Av N along Utica. Then branch along Av U to Bergen Beach. (From Av N South to Av X was originally a trolley called the 82.)

The 4 from Bay Ridge turning down 25 Av to Ulmer Park Depot.

The 5 from Cropsey and Bay Pkway along Kings Highway to Ryder St. (Terminal loop along Bay 31 St and Bath Av.)

The 6 from Cropsey and Bay Pkway to 60 St east via current B9 route to E 16 St. (Also see 9 and 21 below). In 1938, rerouted north along Bay Parkway via current route and extended to Utica Ave. Extended further to Ralph Avenue in the 1950s and to Rockaway Parkway in the 1960s. The eastern portion (with the exception the New Lots subway northern extension was originally the B84 and was absorbed into the B6.

The 7 from Ryder St along Kings Highway, Lenox Rd, Riverdale Av, Saratoga to Eastern Parkway. Extended in 1936 to Broadway.

The 8 from 14 Av and Cropsey along current route only until Nostrand Ave. Used E 8 St both directions instead of Coney Island Av until 1933. (Also see 10 below.)

The 9 from Shore Road only until McDonald Av. In 1938, extended to E 16 St along current route when B6 was rerouted off 60 St and north along Bay Parkway and existing route to Utica Ave. The 9 was further extended via current route to Flatbush Av probably in the early 1950s.

The 10 operated from E 15 and Foster (Terminal loop via Newkirk and E 16 St) via Foster to Bedford to Newkirk to E 31
Street to Ave D to Kings Highway and E 53 St. (Terminal loop via Foster Av.) Extended along Kings Highway to Beverley to Ralph to Ditmas. In 1936, the eastern end was extended to Remsen via Av B returning along Ditmas to Ralph. In 1938, the portion east of Nostrand Av became an extension of the B8. The western end of the B8 was extended to the VA Hospital when it opened in the 1950s or '60s. (Later the current B15 was also called the B10 when the number was no longer needed.)

The 11 from 1 Av along 52 / 53 St to 6 Av to 49 / 50 St to 18 Av and along 18 Av to McDonald. Terminal loop via E 2, Av F and E 3 St. During the war cut back to 18 Av and 49 St.

The 12 from Parkside and Ocean Av via Parkside Av (Robinson St) to Nostrand (return via Clarkson and Woodruff) to Winthrop St to Albany Av to East New York Av (eastbound only Saratoga, Eastern Parkway to St Marks Av to East New York Av) to Van Sinderen and Atlantic Av. Extended along Liberty to Sheridan when trolley service along Liberty was discontinued (which was part of the B45 or B65). Probably after the war rerouted from Winthrop St to its present route on Clarkson Av. In the mid 1950s routed off Eastern Parkway onto East New York Avenue in both directions using Legion St and routed off East New York Av onto Lefferts Av (Empire Blvd) and Troy Av when a small portion of ENY Av near Utica Av was converted to one-way operation in opposite directions.

The 13 along Crescent only until Jamaica Av.

The 14 originally operated to Linwood St and later extended to Crescent St. The Livonia loop was added in the 1960s.

The 15 was originally the Manhattan Bridge 3 cent line which I think was first a cable then trolley line that was converted to a bus early on.

The 16 operated from Narrows Av along its current route to Ocean and Parkside. It was later extended along Shore Road.

The 17 ran in both directions along Utica Av to Remsen and Seaview. Later it used Schenectady Av southbound. Then to its current route using Troy north and Utica South. First extended along Seaview to E 80 St. Then eliminated and extended east in 1936 to E 95 St. Cutback to Remsen Av during the war. Branch added after the war along Glenwood Rd Rockaway Parkway and Seaview Av to E 108 St. When trolley operation ceased along Rockaway Parkway, the Glenwood branch was shortened to Rockaway Parkway and returned to Remsen along Flatlands. The Seaview portion was extended from Remsen Av to E 108 St. The East 80 St rush hour branch was added in the 1960s.

The 18 from Metropolitan and Graham via route that existed until a few years ago to Ridgewood then east along Gates to Fresh Pond Depot. The Cypress Avenue portion was originally a trolley.

The original 19 was the old B13 route north of Jamaica Avenue. It was later combined with the existing 13. The number 19 was later used for the Carlton Avenue route that was later discontinued.

The 20 was originally just the Decatur portion of the route. In 1936 it was extended via Stone (Mother Gaston), Fulton, Pennsylvania to Linden Blvd. Later rerouted to Broadway and then east along Linden Blvd.

The original 21 operated from From 60 St and Bay Pkway along Bay Parkway, Avenue J, Bedford, Newkirk, E 31 St, Av D to Nostrand Av -- In 1938, the portion of the 10 west and south of Nostrand Avenue was rerouted along the current route of the B6 until Utica Ave and added to the existing B6. Service along Bedford between Newkirk and Glenwood was discontinued. The number 21 was not used again until 1946, when the 1B and 1C were combined along Ocean Parkway to become the new B21 which was eliminated in 1978.

The 22 is the current Q24.

B23 until B75 were originally trolley routes. A few were converted to trolley coach for a while. The numbers 77 to 85 were originally bus routes. I don't know about 76, or 79. 80 and 81 were World's Fair routes, 82 was the Bergen Beach Shuttle. 85 was the Army Base Shuttle. 86 was once put on the electronic role signs as a new 86 St route but never operated and that's as high as the Brooklyn numbers got. Some other numbers have been reused. 43 was originally the Holy Cross Shuttle and the current 43 minus Graham Avenue was previously the 47. (There are other numbers that were once used that I have not mentioned such as 72 Junction Blvd which was part of the Brooklyn numbering although the route was in Queens.)

Pre-PCC service no trolleys displayed numbers, however guide books and franchises referred to trolley routes by numbers and the numbers 1 through 22 were used for trolleys. For example the 35 Church Avenue trolley was called the 8 and the 13. The 13 was the McDonald branch that turned south on McDonald. The McDonald trolley was the 50 before the number was used for Flatlands Av.

During the 1960s many routes were changed because of the conversion of many streets to one-way operation. These are too numerous to mention here. If anyone has any other additions or corrections feel free to add them. Not every little rerouting has been included.

I put this together with my friends help because I never saw this in writing anywhere.

One final note, it is interesting to note how many major changes were made to the Brooklyn bus system between the early 1920s and the 1940s on a fairly frequent basis when the system was young. Trolley service also varied greatly within its fixed route structure with many routes operating during the summers only. Since about 1950, with the exception of the 1978 changes, we only see a few minor changes every three or four years when many more routes are in need of a major overhaul.


Regarding my previous post, I omitted the B46 extension from Avenue N to Kings Plaza in 1974 which replaced the B3 branch to Ave U.. A shuttle without a number between 1971 and 1974 also operated between Av N and Av U when Kings Plaza opened..

I wanted to repeat that I concentrated mainly on Brooklyn bus history, not on trolley history because this has been well documented by the ERA. For example, the B46 was at one time two distinct routes: The Reid Av (Macom X Blvd) route south until Church Av and the Utica Avenue trolley, from Eastern Parkway to Av N.

I also did not mention most post 1978 changes such as the B40/78 combination into the new B43 because those are familiar to many. I concentrated on the changes most people are unaware of and did not mention any of the changes due to conversion of streets into one-way operation.
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