Chuck Schumer proposes a Brooklyn-Queens bus route for techies

Charles Schumer at a Sunday press conference. (Azi Paybarah, via flickr)
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Senator Chuck Schumer has written an open letter to the M.T.A. chairman asking him to create a bus route to service the city's burgeoning "nerd" population.

“New York is seeing a major tech boom, with Brooklyn and Long Island City leading the way, and now the new Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island is going to be a game changer that further cements New York’s position as a leader in tech,” said Schumer, in a statement. “You don’t need a PhD to know that connecting these neighborhoods through a ‘Nerd Bus’ is a no-brainer."

In July, M.T.A. chairman Joe Lhota announced a bunch of subway, commuter rail and bus service enhancements, including the creation of a route servicing the so-called Brooklyn Tech Triangle, encompassing DUMBO, Downtown Brooklyn and the Navy Yard, and another servicing the Williamsburg waterfront.

Schumer once clinched a victory for a team of students from James Madison High School over a team from Flushing High on a quiz show called "It's Academic" by correctly identifying the pigment that makes white paint white. (Answer: titanium dioxide.) 

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"While we have not received the senator's letter, we appreciate his interest," said M.T.A. spokesman Adam Lisberg, in a statement. "We constantly study ridership and growth to better serve our customers, as evidenced by the $29.5 million in service investments we announced last month.”

Schumer's letter appears below:

Dear Mr. Lhota,

I write to you today to ask that you explore an exciting proposal regarding the extension of bus services in Brooklyn in order to create a route connecting Brooklyn and Queens Tech Coast. As you know, on July 19 the MTA announced that along with service restorations in Manhattan and Brooklyn, it is proposing two new routes: the Brooklyn Tech Triangle route and the Williamsburg Waterfront route. I applaud the MTA for these extensions of service, and equally for its thoughtful consideration of future transit needs in the New York City area.

As you also know, these extensions are intended in part to service the growing technology industry in Brooklyn. DUMBO is already home to a major technology hub, which is set to expand into Downtown Brooklyn and the Navy Yard. Dozens of tech companies are already on the waiting list for new Navy Yard office space, and New York University is proposing a tech campus in the old Jay Street MTA building in Downtown Brooklyn. In addition Cornell University is planning a major tech campus on Roosevelt Island, with the school temporarily housed at Google’s Chelsea offices while construction is being completed. The faculty and students there are precisely the innovators needed by the growing tech industry in New York City, and many will surely be ferrying back and forth between the Roosevelt Island campus and the neighborhoods in Brooklyn where young engineers will be living and working. In between these two centers, furthermore, are the residential neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, which the new Williamsburg Waterfront route intends to service, and the Queens neighborhood of Long Island City, which many predict to be the next major location for tech start-ups and offices.

I urge the MTA to consider the feasibility of connecting these two new proposed bus routes, and explore the ridership potential of extending into Long Island City and Roosevelt Island when construction is completed at the Cornell-Technion campus, to make an express route that has been called the ‘Nerd Bus’. Until the Cornell Tech campus is built on Roosevelt Island, their temporary location at Google’s New York City Headquarters should also be considered as part of the route. Such a route would service key points in the neighborhoods of Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, Navy Yard, Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Long Island City, as well as Roosevelt Island, creating a tech highway for students, innovators, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and local residents. Connecting these neighborhoods would be a great boon for the tech industry, providing easy transportation between the emerging tech hubs and connecting industry with education and vice-versa. I applaud the MTA in its current restoration and expansion of services, and urge it to consider the feasibility of this new proposal.