LIC, Bklyn ‘nerds’ need bus: Schumer

Rendering courtesy Cornell University
By Rebecca Henely

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) wants the MTA to create a “nerd bus” which would connect riders going from the upcoming applied science campus at Roosevelt Island to the growing technology hub in Brooklyn, but transit agency officials say better options for commuters already exist.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced last month it would create a bus line referred to as the “Brooklyn Tech Triangle” route, which would connect the growing technology community in DUMBO to Downtown Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Schumer said since the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute, an applied sciences and technology campus coming to Roosevelt Island, will be open in 2017 and Long Island City is building an identity as a technological hub, the MTA should extend the route so the centers in both boroughs are connected.

“You don’t need a Ph.D. to know that connecting these neighborhoods through a ‘Nerd Bus’ is a no-brainer,” Schumer said in a statement. “The only thing separating these neighborhoods in New York City is a lack of transit connections.”

Schumer also suggested currently extending the route to Technion-Cornell’s temporary location in Google’s Manhattan offices.

MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said the agency appreciated the senator’s interest.

“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,” Ortiz said.

MTA officials said there are better options for commuters going to Roosevelt Island and Long Island City from Brooklyn, like the F subway train and the East River Ferry. The officials said a bus route would be slow and to create one just for the Technion-Cornell would violate the rules of the Federal Transit Administration.

Jukay Hsu, founder of the nonprofit Coalition for Queens, which has been working to foster Long Island City’s technology community, said he believed more modes of transportation between the neighborhoods would help spur growth, especially now that popular online fund-raising website Kickstarter will be moving its offices from the Lower East Side of Manhattan to Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

“I don’t know the specifics, but it seems like a great proposal,” Hsu said.

Ithaca, N.Y.’s Cornell University and Haifa’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology won a contest last year, run by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city Economic Development Corp., to build a tech campus somewhere in the city.

Long Island City officials advocated for the site to be built on Roosevelt Island due to its proximity to the neighborhood.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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