Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The wheels on the bus

Though I do not look forward to any of the service cuts the MTA must implement later this month (assuming no deus ex machina reprieve), it’s not my recent experience of crushing crowds at 68th Street that fills me with the most frustration. No, despite the fact that trains and stations will only edge ever closer to capacity, despite my visceral understanding of why a Second Avenue subway would be so great (even though it will never carry me nearly door-to-door for my lost thirteen years of primary education), what I will really miss the most is a bus.

Anyone who’s read this blog once or twice will know what a Brooklynophile I’ve become. And one thing about Brooklyn that frustrates me is how difficult it can be to get to one part of it from another. Not to name any names but: damn you, Williamsburg, hipster home of delicious breakfast sandwiches (biscuit, ham, sharp cheddar, and fig jam), tasty beverages (oh the delicate swirl of a mocha from Gimme! Coffee), and beautiful parks. It is nearly impossible to get to you from my home in more southern lands…impossible, that is, without dipping into Manhattan on the Q then riding the bike-ridden L back out to Bedford. Since I have spent, like, 23/24 of my life in the neighborhood riiight above the nexus of those two trains, I’ve become a bit sick of it. But how to avoid this pitfall without adding two hours to my commute time? The G ostensibly trawls between the two neighborhoods (granted, with a 15-minute walk home), but it twines around so sloooowly.

And then appeared the light of my life, the B48. Bus between worlds, it traverses much of the same territory that I encountered on my Bedford Avenue walk. But! It doesn’t take hours. Instead, in about 35 minutes I can be at the side of Prospect Park, right in front of the welcoming open-air entrance of the Q. And, 10 minutes later, home. And on the way, the 48 passes by many things I love—Gimme!, the odd zigzagging guard change of Wallabout Street, the delicious Pilar where M.— and I dine, the coffee shops of Crown Heights, and the botanical, museumical boulevard. And, tired after W’burg spelling bees (will I ever win that sandwich?) and theatrical excursions last week, the white knight bus appeared instantly to take me home.

But now the bus (which only runs a couple of times an hour, truth be told) will find its route shortened. I can still take it from the ’burg to Fulton, then wait for the neat little shuttle to the Q. But once you hit two transfers, the ride no longer seems magic and begins to feel more like a chore. You never know how long you’ll have to wait for the shuttle. And, peculiarly, every time I wind up at the Franklin stop I feel sick to my stomach. I guess next time I get invited out to Mexican diner food after a long night of spelling, I will have to crash with my parents or regretfully decline. Au revoir, 48.


  1. First: fig jammmmmmm, mmmm you are making me hungry.
    Second: is the prize for winning the spelling bee really a sandwich? No trophies with cartoon bees on them, elaborate blue and gold columns and marble pedestals? Actually, I probably would have preferred a sandwich in all those classroom spelling bees myself.

  2. The sandwich is the 3rd place prize. 1st and 2nd are bar tabs (ostensibly one could buy a sandwich--or several!--with those as well). No trophies but I did get a medal from Scrabble for Cheaters...