By Phil Corso
Jerry Valentine gives guitar lessons throughout northeast Queens and said he relies on public transportation to get around.
And as the 24-year-old from Little Neck boarded the Q30 bus along Little Neck Parkway, he said the restoration of five borough buses brought a new tune to his morning commute.
“Without the bus, I’m nobody,” Valentine said. “Now, I can say my life is at least a little bit easier.”
A vital lifeline for Queens commuters returned this week when five crucial bus routes throughout the borough were either restored or expanded, the MTA said.
By Monday morning, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority paved the way for the Q24, Q27, Q30, Q36 and Q42 buses to return to the borough as five of 21 total revived routes throughout the city. Elected officials joined with members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1056 in Queens Village Friday to reiterate the importance of public transit on wheels in the borough.
“Buses are our lifeline. We rely on them,” said state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck). “Queens has always gotten the short end of the stick with service cuts.”
The cuts Weprin referred to dated back to March 2010, when the MTA board approved massive drawbacks in subway, bus and commuter train service because of a $400 million budget deficit. Two subway lines, the V and W, were eliminated and 34 bus routes, including 13 express routes, were dropped. A number of other bus routes were also shortened or had their routes changed.
ATU 1056 President Daneek Miller joined with a handful of elected officials from the city and state levels to remind commuters that their buses were back to supplement the lack of subway access in different parts of Queens.
“We made it clear to the MTA that the loss of this service was having a profound effect on members of this community who do not have ready access to the subway and therefore rely on buses to take them to work or important appointments,” state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) said.
Other elected officials in attendance included City Councilmen Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) and Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) and Assembly members Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village), Ron Kim (D-Flushing) and Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows).
The move to reinstall the 21 bus routes throughout the city as of Jan. 6 came as part of the MTA’s Service Enhancement Plan, which gave $18 million back to the riders in transportation services.
“We are here to provide mass transit service, and that we are able to restore some earlier service cuts while at the same time extending service along several routes is great news for us to share,” said New York City Transit President Thomas Prendergast. “These enhancements were all a result of listening to our customers and keeping close watch on changing travel trends.”
In Queens, service upgrades included the restoration of the Q24 from Broadway Junction to Bushwick Avenue via Broadway, the Q27 with new overnight service from Horace Harding Expressway to Cambria Heights via Springfield Boulevard, the Q30 from Little Neck to Jamaica with a new stop at Queensborough Community College, the expansion of the Q36 with alternate trips from Jamaica Avenue to Little Neck via Little Neck Parkway and the restoration of the Q42’s midday service from Jamaica Center to St. Albans via Archer Avenue.
The Q30 bus will also restore all weekday service along the former Q79 bus route along Little Neck Parkway in northeast Queens, which community leaders pushed heavily for since it was cut two years ago.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.