If things do not change, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority stands poised to radically cut and eliminate bus service throughout Queens: the Q14, Q15, Q24, Q26, Q30, Q31, Q42, Q48, Q74, Q75, Q76, Q79, Q89, QM22, QM23 and X51. Residents, whether riders or not, must be united to oppose these misguided and harmful actions.
As a first step, contact your state legislator to press the governor and the MTA. Second, call 311 and demand the mayor, who found the time to tape a commercial to urge LeBron James to play here, to prevail upon the MTA to restore these cuts.
The MTA and its chairman/CEO, Jay Walder, refuse to exercise other options that would avert these cuts. Instead, they chose to balance their books on the backs of working people who depend on these bus lines each day. The issue is not money — it is policy. The public needs to know Walder, once of Queens but of late of London, testified to the state Assembly that he would not apply new funding or saved resources to restore service cuts and eliminations. This is just an outrage. For many Queens residents, buses provide the only transit option.
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1056, which represents drivers and mechanics who work for MTA New York City Transit’s Queens bus division, had made the case for funding. Legislators support the restorations. It remains a question of priorities. U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) sponsor legislation to direct federal operating aid, previously denied city transit, to the MTA.
The City Council proposed averting service cuts through $90 million in unused federal stimulus monies to cover operations and applying some $50 million in funds currently allocated to pay-as-you-go capital. The public needs to weigh in and make clear its preference for bus service over massive projects that offer meager service to Queens — and nothing for decades.
Moreover, we cannot let these harmful cuts stand at a time when MTA management takes care of folks at the top, perpetuates wasteful policies and practices and advances costly mega-projects that benefit connected developers and other insiders. Tell the MTA no! Local 1056 will continue to speak out and urges our elected and community leader allies to keep up the pressure against the cuts and for using stimulus funding to fund the operations shortfall.
The bottom line is public transportation cannot be viewed as just a private sector, market-driven service. It provides the economic and social hub of our society and the lifeline of all our citizens and no reasonable person or entity can support these harmful service cuts. ATU Local 1056 will continue to rally, lobby and organize against the service cuts.
Add your voice and make it heard.
I. Daneek Miller
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1056