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MTA Proposes Cutting Eight Borough Bus Lines – QNS.com

MTA Proposes Cutting Eight Borough Bus Lines

Mounting mass transit expenses combined with declining city, state and federal transportation budgets may result in a termination of eight Queens bus lines in 2006, affecting more than 22,500 daily passengers, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) revealed this week.
Without necessary funding on the horizon, plans call for the elimination of the Q14, Q16, Q26, Q31, Q42, Q75, Q79 and Q84 MTA bus lines.
The service cutback would impact bus riders on lines heading to and from Queens two major subways and LIRR depots at Jamaica Center and the Main Street station in Flushing. The busy Flushing hub, for example, services passengers from 23 bus lines that cover an area with the same street mileage as the borough of Manhattan.
An estimated 350,000 riders use Queens 63 bus routes operated by the Transit Authority.
Speaking out against bus service reductions at a State Assembly hearing last week, Borough President Helen Marshall told the legislators that Queens commuters were largely unserved by subways.
"We call our bus services what they are," Marshall declared, "Vital links to work, school and doctors appointments for seniors."
Marshall also charged that service reductions would adversely affect children going to school and the physically challenged.
Assemblywoman Toby Stavisky has already called for greater fiscal accountability from the MTA. The New York City-based agency should "stop the indiscriminate subsidizing of suburban commuters," Stavisky said.
Significantly, the TA makes no mention of planned additional cutbacks of bus service in Queens. There is heightened concern that additional routes will either be eliminated or reduced when the TA takes over operation of 46 privately-operated Queens bus routes this December.
Community Board 7 in Flushing has already expressed concern that once the TA takes over the private bus lines they will eliminate at least one of the competing private bus lines that travel on parallel routes, which criss-cross or run alongside one another. A recent study by CB7 revealed that three private bus lines traveled along the same routes as six TA lines. Similar route duplications appear in every Community Board in Queens, prompting worry boroughwide.
Gene Russianoff, staff attorney of the Straphangers Association, a mass transit watchdog group, said the proposal indicated that the MTA "was in dire financial distress." He pointed to declines in city and state subsidies, coupled with the emergence of new programs. "Were looking for leadership from Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Pataki," he said.
An alarmed Councilmember John Liu, chair of the Council Transportation Committee who last week predicted a $436 million MTA deficit, speculated, "Are we handing over to the MTA carte blanche power to cut bus service indiscriminately?"
Victor Ross is a freelance writer.

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