Astoria wants W, QM22 bus back in service

Astoria wants W, QM22 bus back in service
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Rebecca Henely

In light of recent public transportation restorations across the city, Astoria’s elected officials and civic members demanded Tuesday that the MTA bring back the W subway line and the QM22 express bus.

“The MTA has decided to ignore this community,” said Costa Constantinides, an Astoria district leader and a City Council candidate.

The request has been a common one for Astorians. Community members had protested the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s budget cuts-inspired decision to get rid of the lines in 2010 as well as conducted petitions and more rallies to restore services after they were eliminated.

The MTA did not respond to requests for comment.

The W train ran from the Ditmars Boulevard subway stop at 31st Street in Astoria along the Broadway line and ended at the Whitehall Street stop in Lower Manhattan from 2004-10, and ran from Ditmars to Coney Island in Brooklyn from 2001-04. The QM22 ran from Jackson Heights to Midtown Manhattan, making stops in Astoria and Long Island City.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) called getting rid of the lines in 2010 a step backward. He said many Astorians work in Manhattan and wanted the additional public transportation options.

“The QM22 is a lifeline that we still hear about in our offices,” he said.

The senator said he objected to how even though the MTA was restoring services in Brooklyn and the Bronx, few lines were restored in Queens. An exception was Sunnyside’s B24 weekend bus service.

State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) said in the first four years of her legal career she took the W train into Manhattan every day. She said the train was packed quickly when she was riding it and the N, which runs along a similar route, is overcrowded.

“The facts are that this is a growing community,” Simotas said. “I thought the city’s mission was to get people out of their cars and into mass transit.”

Michael Murphy, an member of the public transport advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, said Astoria itself has also become a destination. He said restoring the subway and bus lines would be critical and compared it to cutting a utility like gas or water.

“When you cut, you’re taking something away that people need in their daily lives,” Murphy said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.