Pols pledge to fight Q79 shutdown

A small crowd of local residents gathered under the blazing sun in Little Neck recently to hear about a dozen elected officials and candidates for office pledge to fight to save the Q79 bus route.

Called by City Councilmember Dan Halloran, State Senator Frank Padavan, Assemblymember David Weprin and City Councilmember Mark Weprin took turns pointing out that the line, which the MTA says is underutilized, should be kept running.

“It’s a lifeline north and south along Little Neck Parkway,” said Assemblymember Weprin, noting that his colleagues find it hard to believe that there is district in New York City without subways.

Councilmember Weprin called it “outrageous” that, while Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and others call for more mass transit ridership and congestion pricing, the MTA would cut “the only bus line available” for many in his district.

“Northeast Queens is badly underserved by public transit already,” Halloran said, adding, “Our communities provide one of the largest tax bases in New York City, and we deserve our fair share of services from the city and state.”

Saying he refused to “let the MTA balance its books on the backs of middle class New Yorkers,” Halloran commended Little Neck resident James Romano, a volunteer with the Little Neck Pines Civic Association, for collecting over 400 petition signatures to save the line. “Between us, we have well over 1,000 signatures,” he said.

The MTA’s evaluation of the Q79 is misdirected, Padavan indicated. “It’s not just about volume,” Padavan pointed out. “It’s about necessity.”

Taking a question from the crowd, he acknowledged that if the MTA extended the line from Jamaica Avenue/Jericho Turnpike to the Long Island Rail Road station in Floral Park, it would boost ridership.

Brushing aside objections by some in Nassau County to extending the Q79 to the station, Padavan said, “The MTA doesn’t need permission. Nobody asked for our [Queens’] permission when they started running buses from Nassau to Main Street along Northern Boulevard.”