Don’t Stiff the MTA

We have a message for our governor: Andrew, remember your Queens roots and keep your hands off the MTA’s $40 million public transit funds that could make travel for city straphangers a whole lot easier.

As the April 1 state budget deadline approaches, Cuomo has proposed plundering $40 million from the transit kitty to pay for MTA bonds the state had agreed to pay off. Most of that fund is dedicated to mass transit improvements.

Amid the outcry from many state Assembly members, the city’s Riders Alliance and Straphangers Campaign waded into the foray with estimates of what the $40 million could do to improve the commute for thousands of frazzled New Yorkers.

And the possibilities were quite overwhelming for the often frustrated riders in Queens.

The rider advocates said the MTA could use the $40 million to restore off-peak service on the No. 7, A and J lines, bring back G service to Forest Hills and revive W service from Astoria to Lower Manhattan.

In addition, those salvaged millions could also underwrite three new bus routes in Queens and add 26 new LIRR trains.

But Cuomo’s raid on the MTA funds amounts to a staggering $40 million cut to the transit authority, jeopardizing its already shaky financial footing and setting the stage for a sharp increase in fares.

Both riders groups said leaving the $40 million in the MTA’s coffers would enable the agency to reduce the fare hikes planned for 2015 and 2017.

Last year, Brooklyn Assemblyman Martin Golden sponsored a bill to put a lock on the $40 million transit fund which passed both houses, but Cuomo vetoed the measure.

Since Cuomo graduated from Archbishop Molloy HS back in 1975, it’s not unreasonable to suspect he took his share of Queens buses and subways during his formative years. Queens has always been a public transit wasteland, so the challenge of commuting must have made an impression.

Fast forward to today when the same Andrew Cuomo has honed a reputation for being a shrewd negotiator. We’re counting on him to play the $40 million transit fund card to wrest a concession from other interest groups in the state budget game and to restore the dollars to the MTA, which deserves a break from Albany.

The riders have earned a reprieve from service cutbacks and rising fares. Act now, Andrew, and we’ll get you a gold MetroCard.