Queens A-line commuters lost in transit

By Matthew Monks

Take the plight of Sharon Washington, who relies on both the Green Bus Line and the A train for her daily commute from Woodhaven to Far Rockaway.Just after a private bus strike that crippled service in southern Queens for a week and a half was resolved on Jan. 19, she was dealt another blow a few days later on Jan. 23 when she learned a fire had hobbled the A and C subway lines. “Between the A train and the bus service to get into Far Rockaway, I said I didn't know what I was going to do,” said the 41-year-old Woodhaven resident while waiting for the Q11 at Lefferts Boulevard in Ozone Park. She was among a handful of commuters from Far Rockaway to Woodhaven who griped Friday about recent kinks in their daily travel routine – especially considering the frigid cold that blasted the region last month.Fire officials initially blamed the fire in a Chamber Street switching station on a homeless person trying to escape the cold but said Tuesday they could not determine the cause of the blaze.Transit Authority officials initially said it would take up to five years to restore the lines, but after a huge public outcry Transit Authority President Lawrence Reuter announced late Tuesday the A and C would both be running at 70 percent by Wednesday. That means the A line, which serves the Rockaways, Howard Beach and Ozone Park, will be coming every five to seven minutes instead of every three to five.The initial timetable of years infuriated Luis Garcia, 34, of Far Rockaway, who said it took him nearly two hours to get home from the Bronx last Thursday night because he waited 45 minutes to catch the A train. “It's terrible. I didn't get home until 1:30 in the morning. It was a long night, to say the least,” he said outside the Rockaway Boulevard station in Woodhaven. “They're not responding in a proper manner.”Hazur Singh, 71, of Ozone Park, could understand his pain. He said he felt stranded on Jan. 10 when Green Bus Line union workers went on strike. “People were waiting. There were no buses,” Singh said at the Lefferts Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue stop just blocks from his house. “A couple of days we were left waiting over here.”All last week Ozone Park residents Aisha Charles, 28, and Michael Dawson, 18, suffered the same plight on A train platforms. “I always take the A train,” Dawson said just minutes after stepping off the train at the Rockaway Boulevard station in Ozone Park. “For the last week it hasn't been coming frequently, but it usually gives very good service.”Charles said she has had to give herself an extra 45 minutes to get around. “It's holding you back,” she said. “It's supposed to be an express train, but it's going slow.”Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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