Recently rolled out MTA restorations drew praise from many, though some advocates and politicians said Queens riders were still left in the lurch.
Following deep 2010 slashes to service in the five boroughs, the MTA announced $29 million in restorations and new service to dozens of subway lines and bus routes accounting for approximately one-third of the original cuts. Five new bus routes were also added, the first in more than a decade.
In Queens, riders of the Q24, Q27, Q30, Q36, Q42 and Q76 will see lost service renewed or improved.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about how to improve both the quality and quantity of service for our riders, and I’m pleased that these investments will make a difference in the lives of our customers,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph Lhota.
Not everyone was offering the MTA a pat on the back.
“You don’t get a gold star for returning what you took in the first place,” said Michael Murphy of Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group that wants all cuts restored.
The cutbacks of two years ago were due in large part to cover a budget gap of nearly $900 million. New and resumed services being phased in beginning in October will be funded through increased ridership and savings.
More than 30 bus routes were eliminated throughout the city, with an additional 100 altered during the 2010 slashes.
In Queens, the “W” train and seven buses were eliminated, along with reduced service on more than a dozen routes.
“There’s no reason for one part of Queens to be left in the dark while the rest of the city sees enhancements and restorations,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris at an Astoria press conference outside a former “W” train station.
Most of the additions were in northeast and southeast Queens.
The MTA focused on areas where network coverage was lost, ample access to transportation was not provided, and looked at opportunities to serve new and growing communities, said agency spokesperson Kevin Ortiz.
Many other demands of Queens straphangers fell on deaf ears, especially regarding express buses.
Ali Fadil, a northeast Queens resident, collected hundreds of signatures calling for the QM20 to reach lower Manhattan, eliminating the need to transfer to the subway or travel to another neighborhood.
“There are many people in our area who get on the expressway and drive and drive to Fresh Meadows for the QM7 and QM8 for service to and from lower Manhattan, turning Fresh Meadows into a commuter parking lot where it can be very hard to find parking,” he said.
In southeast Queens, riders of the QM21 called for the bus to again run every 15 minutes as it had prior to 2010. Currently, the bus runs every half hour.
“This means if a bus doesn’t show for whatever reason, one can suffer an hour-long wait in order to begin his commute. This would render him late to his destination, which would likely be work,” said Tamisha Chevis of the Rochdale Village Commuters in Action.
“We should be in a situation of talking about new services to communities that have none,” said Murphy. “Instead we’re playing defensive and we’re trying to get back stuff that was taken away.”