By Anna Gustafson
More than 50 Queens legislators, college students and seniors railed against the MTA’s proposal to eliminate the Q74 bus line at a rally Friday afternoon outside the Pomonok Houses in Flushing.
Individuals slammed the move, which could take effect as early as this spring, and said it would cut off what they called a lifeline for residents going to work and school.
“I take the Q74 every weekday,” said Virginia Wilber, a Kew Gardens resident and secondâˆ’year CUNY Law School student. “I moved to Kew Gardens from Park Slope to be closer to CUNY, and without the Q74 now it may take me just as long to get to school as it did when I was living in Park Slope.”
The Q74 runs from Kew Gardens to Flushing and was one of the lines the Metropolitan Transportation Authority proposed to cut in December.
“We’re aware that these service cuts will have a traumatic impact on customers throughout Queens, and these are measures we do not want to implement,” said MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz. “We urge our customers to reach out to their local state legislators and tell them to support the Ravitch recommendations, which would eliminate the need to implement these service cuts.”
Richard Ravitch, chairman of a commission charged by Gov. David Paterson with analyzing how to restore the MTA’s financial footing, recommended in December that the MTA implement, among other things, a “mobility tax” and tolls on the East River and Harlem River bridges to avoid fare hikes and service reductions.
City Councilman James Gennaro (Dâˆ’Fresh Meadows), who hosted the rally, said the Q74 cut would negatively affect thousands of students, staff and teachers at Queens College, CUNY Law School and Townsend Harris High School, as well as seniors living in Pomonok Housing.
“Q74 is not a convenience; it’s a lifeline,” Gennaro said.
According to Ortiz, average weekday ridership on the Q74 is 1,900.
State Sen. Toby Stavisky (Dâˆ’Whitestone) reiterated Gennaro’s sentiments.
“My office has heard from numerous constituents telling me how much the abolition of the Q74 service would be a hardship for them, forcing residents with cars to drive when there is scant parking available in the area the line serves, requiring those without cars to make multiple transfers to reach their destination and necessitating long waits outdoors in inclement weather,” Stavisky said.
Daniel Muchnick, vice president of the Queens College Student Association, said the bus line’s elimination would make life much more difficult for students already facing financial aid cuts and looming tuition hikes.
“Without it, they would be forced to take two buses and would have much longer and tedious commutes between school, home and various jobs they must keep in order to cover their expenses,” Muchnick said. “Is this any way to strengthen the economy?”
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by eâˆ’mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718âˆ’229âˆ’0300, Ext. 174.