MTA Restores Reduced Local Routes
Fueled by increases in ridership and revenue, the MTA announced last Thursday, July 19, that it would restore many of the bus services curtailed in its “doomsday cuts” of 2010 and create new public transportation options across the city- but many elected officials in Queens want the authority to go even further.
Locally, over the next several months, the MTA will restore weekend bus service on the B24 line, which currently operates on weekdays only between Greenpoint and Williamsburg and runs through Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside. The authority will also extend the Q24 bus line, which operates on Atlantic Avenue along the borders of Woodhaven, Richmond Hill and Ozone Park, from its current terminus at Broadway Junction back to its former last westbound stop at the corner of Patchen and Lafayette avenues on the Bushwick/Bedford-Stuyvesant border.
Also being extended is the B57 bus line, which originates in Maspeth and runs through Ridgewood. Its Brooklyn terminus will be relocated from Carroll Gardens to Red Hook. The B39 bus, which ran across the Williamsburg Bridge linking Williamsburg Plaza and the Lower East Side in Manhattan before ceasing operation in June 2010, will be brought back from the dead by the MTA and operate daily from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m.
The MTA also noted that it would launch five new bus routes serving communities across the city, including Greenpoint and Williamsburg. A round of public hearings will be held before those new routes are implemented.
Along with the new and restored service, the MTA indicated that it would make permanent the extension of the G line to the Church Avenue station in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
“As the New York metropolitan region grows, the MTA’s 8.5 million riders increasingly rely on transit not just for commuting but for getting around at all times for all reasons,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph J. Lhota. “The service investments we are announcing will give our customers more connections to where they want to go, more options on nights and weekends and more reason to stay out of their cars and take buses, subways and commuter trains instead.”
“These service investments are not about adding buses to existing routes, but rather extending service during weekend and off-peak periods when riders had limited options,” said Thomas F. Prendergast, president of MTA New York City Transit. “As a result of new revenue from increased ridership as well as our continuing cost-saving measures, we are now able to respond to this growth in ridership by filling gaps in service coverage in certain areas as well as provide new service to developing neighborhoods throughout the city.”
According to the MTA, the service investments will cost $29 million a year and were implemented based on an analysis of ridership data and growth in residential and commercial areas. The authority noted that subway ridership “has reached levels not seen since the 1950s, while commuter train ridership is approaching all-time records.”
Cuts to the B24, B39, B57 and Q24 bus lines were part of an array of service reductions implemented by the MTA in June 2010 to close a $93 million budget gap. While elected officials in Queens praised the restoration and extension of services in some areas, they called upon the MTA to bring back full transit services along many of the shortened or eliminated bus and train lines in the borough.
At a press conference outside the Astoria-Ditmars Boulevard N train station on Tuesday morning, July 24, State Sen. Michael Gianaris joined other activists in calling for the restoration of the W subway line and the QM22 express bus route to Manhattan.
The W line, which was eliminated in 2010 due to budget cuts, previously ran on weekdays from Astoria- Ditmars Boulevard to Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan to complement N train service. It was supplanted by the Q train, which is extended on weekdays from its usual terminus of 57th Street in midtown Manhattan to Astoria.
The QM22 bus ran between midtown Manhattan and Jackson Heights and passed through Astoria.
“Recent cuts have put western Queens at a disadvantage when it comes to commuting to and from Manhattan,” Gianaris said. “I urge the MTA to restore all western Queens mass transit cuts, whose loss has greatly impacted the lives of commuters here. We have suffered as much as any borough due to recent service reductions.”
“Our trains and buses are more crowded than ever,” added Democratic District Leader Costa Constantinides. “It is not economically or environmentally sustainable to keep our transit options here in western Astoria at the level they are currently. We have rallied, written letters and collected close to 1,500 signatures from members of this community. Today, we again speak in one clear voice: MTA, stand with the people of Astoria and restore our W train and QM22 bus service.”
Also offering statements in support of the restoration of the W train and the QM22 bus route in western Queens were Representatives Joseph Crowley and Carolyn Maloney, State Sen. Jose Peralta, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas and City Council Member Peter Vallone Jr.
Other service cuts in western Queens which were enacted in June 2010 included the elimination of the V line, which ran from 71st-Continental Avenues in Forest Hills to Second Avenue on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. That route was replaced by a reconfigured M train, which runs on weekdays from Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village and through Brooklyn and midtown Manhattan and back into Queens to 71st-Continental Avenues.
The G train was also terminated at Long Island City’s Court Square- 23rd Street station; prior to the June 2010 cutbacks, it also operated local service to the 71st-Continental Avenues station in Forest Hills.
Also changed was the B13 bus line, which originates from Spring Creek and runs through East New York, Cypress Hills, Glendale and Ridgewood. The bus route, which formerly terminated at Grand Street in Williamsburg, now makes its last stop at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center.