Confronted with an $800 million budget deficit, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has structured a series of service changes that will save the agency $93 million per year – and affect the commutes of New Yorkers in all five boroughs.
On Wednesday, March 24, the MTA board approved, by a vote of 11 to two, a package of changes that effectively discontinue or modify service like Queens’ G, V and W subway lines, express buses like the X32 and X51, and local bus lines from the Q14 to the Q79 and about 10 others in between.
The cuts, according to the MTA, included modifications based on feedback from more than 500 New Yorkers at nine public hearings, as well as thousands upon thousands of letters, emails and signed petitions.
“We’ve just taken a very difficult vote,” MTA chair and CEO Jay Walder said, “but there are more difficult choices ahead to achieve necessary cost savings.”
Walder added that the agency was able to adjust its plan after hearing from customers, but he admitted, “Unfortunately, many of the cuts moving ahead will be painful.”
Flushing City Councilmember Peter Koo, whose district will absorb its fair share of the MTA changes, called the cuts “unacceptable” and “thoughtless” and said they “will have devastating impact to all New Yorkers.”
Indeed, many commuters across Queens have reacted negatively to news of the reductions, which take effect June 27.
“It is going to be terrible because they are going to cut MetroCards, too,” said Lory Martinez, a junior at Flushing’s Townsend Harris High School, referring to a separate MTA deficit reduction plan that will phase out free student fare cards. “And I am going to have to take two buses to Queens Boulevard and then walk home.”
She continued, “It is going to take half an hour longer because the buses take a lot longer and they are always full. It is very hard to get on that bus.”
Queens College freshman Adriana Galarza agreed that the discontinuation of local lines like the Q74 would wreak havoc on what are already difficult commutes.
“With wait time, it takes me maybe an hour to get to school now. But it is now going to take me over an hour and a half,” she lamented. “I am very upset because it is the only way I can get home directly without have to worry about making so many transfers.”
Additional local bus service changes in Queens include: a restructuring of the Q14 and Q15 routes in Whitestone; an earlier end to Sunday service on the Q48; the discontinuation of weekend Q31 service; off-peak Q42 service (operates weekdays only); overnight bus service on the Q30; all Q75 service; Saturday Q76 service (does not operate on Sundays); and all Q79 service.
Queens express lines like the X32 and X51 will also be discontinued.
Major subway modifications include an extension of the Q to Astoria to replace the W and an extension of the M to replace the V between Broadway-Lafayette Street and Forest Hills-71st Avenue.
Several Long Island Rail Road branches will also experience changes.
The service reductions – which, in part, target underutilized or duplicative segments and underperforming lines – are part of a comprehensive MTA overhaul that includes layoffs, reducing overtime, consolidating redundant functions and working with suppliers to lower costs.
More details on the service changes are available at https://mta.info/news/stories/?story=24.