If you find yourself waiting longer for a train or a bus, get used to it.
The MTA service cuts, which included the elimination of subway lines and local bus routes throughout the borough, officially went into effect on Sunday, June 27, despite the protests of thousands of straphangers.
In Astoria, local residents led by Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., held a mock funeral for the W train, which is being eliminated entirely, decrying longer waits and slower service as a result of the cutbacks.
“It’s crystal clear that the V and W trains did not die of natural causes; they were tragically murdered,” said Gene Russianoff, the campaign attorney and spokesperson for the New York Public Interest Research Group Straphangers Campaign, at the rally on Friday, June 25.
Vallone and Russianoff blasted the MTA for failing to make further cuts within its own agency and failing to utilize stimulus funds to plug the gap in its budget.
“The MTA has been running its agency like an out-of-control train that has clearly gone off its tracks and what it’s doing is burning the middle class,” said Aravella Simotas, a Community Board 1 member who is running for Assembly in District 36.
The MTA, which is facing an $800 million budget deficit this year, decided on service reductions to more than 15 bus and subway lines in Queens as well as dozens more throughout the city.
“Given the magnitude of the budget gap, there is no way to avoid some painful impacts on customers,” MTA spokesperson Aaron Donovan said. “Changes were designed to have minimal impact on customers as possible. All together, these cuts will save $93 million.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the borough from Astoria, I. Daneek Miller, Amalgamated Transportation Union (ATU) Local No.1056 president, gathered with other union members on Wednesday, June 23 at Parsons Boulevard and Archer Avenue in Jamaica, to pass out leaflets to commuters about the impending cuts.
“Hundreds of thousands of people come through this hub every day,” Miller said. “The makeup of downtown Queens makes these bus lines a necessity.”
Miller said that he is not only concerned with his workers, many of whom could have their jobs affected by cuts, but also for the residents of the neighborhoods who rely on mass transportation.
“For a community to grow and thrive there needs to be a certain level of transportation,” Miller said.