By Anna Gustafson
Queens elected officials and civic leaders blasted the MTA’s decision to eliminate the Q74 bus and said it will present major hardships for the many students and seniors who rely on the line that runs from Kew Gardens to Flushing.
“The 74 is the lifeblood that feeds the Pomonok Houses, Queens College, CUNY Law School and Townsend Harris High School,” City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) said. “In such an economy as this, the MTA should be making it easier for people to get to their destinations, not impeding them.”
The Q74 was one of 37 bus routes to be eliminated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, which voted last week to approve drastic service cuts, including shutting down the V and W subway lines, in an attempt to fill the agency’s $800 million budget gap.
“So many people rely on the Q74, whether they’re taking it to school, to Borough Hall, to shopping on Main Street, going to the court house, or connecting with the E and F subway lines,” said state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone). “They’re going to cut off residents with the rest of the city.”
MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said the Q74 was axed in part because its average weekday ridership numbers are lower than the city average. About 2,100 people take the Q74 on weekdays, compared to the average of about 12,000, Ortiz said.
“We’re cognizant that any type of service cuts are painful measures that we didn’t want to implement, but given our current financial situation it’s something we had to move forward with,” Ortiz said.
Queens Civic Congress President Patricia Dolan, also the president of the Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association, said the young, the old and everyone in between will be negatively affected by the MTA’s decision.
“We are very, very disappointed that after spending a great deal of time and effort trying to explain to the MTA why it should not be cut, they continued to cut it,” Dolan said. “This is going to be extremely unpleasant for Queens College students and, unfortunately, in our opinion, it will force many more to drive to school.”
The Q74 also goes to a large number of yeshivas and senior centers, all of which will be hurt by the bus line elimination, Dolan said.
Dolan questioned why the MTA chose the Q74 to go instead of bus lines ridden by fewer people, including the Q14 in Whitestone, which has an average ridership of about 2,062.
“At the end of the day, the MTA gave a good hard slap in the face to Kew Gardens Hills and everything in it,” Dolan said.
Ortiz said deliberations were made based on not just ridership, but also the possibility of alternative modes of transportation.
State Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) expressed his displeasure at the removal of the Q74 and said it was a route the MTA “promised to save when the [state] Legislature bailed out the MTA last year.”
Stavisky said she hopes the MTA will reconsider cutting the Q74.
“We haven’t given up yet,” she said.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.