By Phil Corso
Catching a bus in Queens will be significantly simpler for riders throughout the borough by the end of this weekend, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said Friday.
Elected officials joined with members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1056 in Queens Village Friday to celebrate the restoration or expansion of five MTA bus routes throughout the borough. The move, outlined as the Service Enhancement Plan, gives $18 million back to the riders in services after a series of unpopular cuts from 2010 left them with fewer bus options.
Following the service cuts, leaders throughout the borough. including state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck) and others. rallied together for their immediate restoration.
“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,” Avella said.
As of Sunday, Jan. 6, the MTA will restore 21 routes throughout the city. In Queens, service upgrades include 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 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.
“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 F. Prendergast. “These enhancements were all a result of listening to our customers and keeping close watch on changing travel trends.”
In March 2010 the MTA board approved massive cuts 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 shortened or had their routes changed. Straphangers experienced longer waits for subway trains and buses.
The MTA discussed elimination of free MetroCards for 525,000 schoolchildren, but it was never carried out.
Jay Walder, then chairman of the MTA, began a program of layoffs and cuts in spending, including elimination of many station agent jobs and consolidation of departments in the transit agency,
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.