By Jeremy Walsh
Western Queens will soon bid farewell to the W and Vaya con Dios to the V as the MTA struggles to close an $800 million deficit.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plan includes ending the V train and diverting the M along its tracks in Manhattan. In Long Island City and Astoria, the W train has been discontinued. Instead, the Q train will cross over from 57th Street in Manhattan and run along the W’s tracks in Queens.
The MTA board voted 11-2 last Thursday in favor of the plan that also includes shutting down numerous bus lines as well as layoffs.
Leaders in western Queens had mixed reactions to the changes. In the north, they railed against the W shutdown.
“It’s going to have a huge impact,” City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) said. “Right now you can’t get on the train on a weekend, and on a weekday it’s very crowded. And our neighborhood is growing every day.”
Vallone acknowledged that the Q train would pick up some of the slack left by the W.
“But even with the Q, there’s going to be less service, more waits, more transfers, more crowds,” he said.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), whose district includes several stops along the W line, criticized the MTA for not diverting 10 percent of federal stimulus funds for capital projects over to operating expenses, noting Chicago and Seattle opted for this method.
“The MTA could have done that here to save the W and they chose not to, and I think that is very unfortunate,” he said.
But Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano was generally hopeful about the merger of the M and V trains, although he worried M train riders hoping to go further downtown than the Essex-Delancey Street station would create a hazard on the platform as they transferred to the J train.
Giordano also asked that the M’s nighttime and weekend service continue since the V train does not run during those times.
He and some members of CB 5 were pleased the MTA preserved the “M” name.
“We felt that the combined line should be the M train simply because it has much more of a history,” he said. “That M train has been a lifeblood for portions of our community.”
City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) called the merger a best-case scenario.
“If we have to endure cuts, I think the changes made to the M Train make sense,” she said. “I am glad service from Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village will continue.”
There were some in southwest Queens who will miss the V, though.
“I live at the local stop so I kind of depend on the V train sometimes to get me to school or work on time,” said Junyu Zhang, 17, of Forest Hills. “Now that they cut it out, I just hope that the R train and the other local trains come faster.”
Christina Santucci contributed to this article.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.