By Phil Corso
After hearing news of an unexpected $40 million surplus for the MTA, one northeast Queens lawmaker proposed the agency bring back a vital bus route in his district after cutting it in 2010.
The agency discovered the extra state dollars last month after lawmakers in Albany passed the 2013-14 budget, which included an increase of more than $358 million for transit. The figure had exceeded what the Metropolitan Transportation Authority expected by about $40 million.
City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) said he saw the extra money as an ample opportunity for the MTA to restore the Q75 bus route, which once traveled between Oakland Gardens and Jamaica with stops along Francis Lewis Boulevard and Union Turnpike. Since it was cut, the lawmaker said his constituents have been disregarded by the MTA.
“It’s the MTA’s obligation to prioritize restoration for commuters in areas where residents rely heavily on buses,” Weprin said. “Eastern Queens has no subway service, so bus service is critical.”
Weprin said this was the MTA’s chance to restore cuts it made back in 2010 when it eliminated 32 bus routes throughout the city, including the northeast Queens Q75. Commuters throughout the borough have since been stranded without a bus route — or subway stop — within walking distance, Weprin said.
In 2010 ,the MTA rolled back its subway, bus and commuter train services because of a $400 million budget deficit. The cuts included two subway lives, the V and W, as well as 34 bus routes, including 13 express routes. The agency also shortened several other routes throughout the city.
Lawmakers took to MTA headquarters in Manhattan late last month to call on the agency to use its surplus wisely by bringing back old routes that had been eliminated. Advocates also proposed the MTA consider restoring weekend and off-peak service for subways throughout the city and provide additional rush service to the Long Island and Metro-North railroads.
If enacted, the restorations would continue to undo the 2010 cuts after the MTA brought back 21 city bus routes in January, including the Q24, Q27, Q30, Q36 and Q42.
The service upgrades in Queens 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.
While Weprin had celebrated the return of those five routes, he still said there were others the MTA needed to consider, including the Q75 in his district.
And now with news of the newfound $40 million in the agency’s budget, the councilman said he saw no better time than the present to bring buses back to the borough.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.