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Bus service hearing sways few

"If I did my job like they do, I would be fired. This is abominable, it adds one hour on to my work schedule," she said to members of the Franchise and Concession Review Committee and the New York City Department of Transportation.

Wallace, who runs three J-Cap Medical Centers in Jamaica, spoke at the committee's Monday meeting to determine whether the Queens independent bus companies - Green Bus Line, Jamaica Buses, Queens Surface Corporation, Triboro Coach Corporation, two companies from the Bronx and one from Brooklyn - would receive an extension to operate until Jan. 11, 2002. The companies' contracts expire Jan. 12, 2001.

About 10 other people joined Wallace in complaining about late buses that are often filthy.

Wallace said when she got her job in Jamaica - 18 minutes from her home - she was ecstatic because as an environmentalist she could get rid of her car and use public transportation. But now, using the Green Line to get from her home to her job has left her with nothing but hassles, she said.

"I have spent an hour waiting for the No. 6 bus to arrive," Wallace told the panel, "and when one arrives, four arrive. When I ask the driver if someone is late he says, 'apparently someone is.'"

The DOT contracts seven privately owned bus companies to provide bus service in areas of the city not adequately served by the Transit Authority. In Comptroller Alan Hevesi's 1999 audit of the private bus companies, Green Bus lines was on time 67 percent of the time in 1999, Jamaica 71 percent, Queens Surface 85 percent and Triboro 78 percent.

As for cleanliness, 58 percent of Green Bus Lines met the standard, Jamaica 45 percent, Queens Surface 69 percent and Triboro 58 percent, according to the report.

Ulysses Parham agreed with Wallace and said he has similar headaches trying to get back and forth from his home in Queens Village to his job in Jamaica. He said he works the graveyard shift and he takes the No. 110 bus, which he claimed never runs on time.

"I ask the bus driver why he is late and he looks at me nonchalantly and does not say anything," Parham said. "I leave at 10 p.m. and the bus should run every 10 minutes, but it does not run on schedule. It makes me late for work."

He said residents of Queens Village, Laurelton and Jamaica are forced to take dollar vans and the train. Parham said better service has to be provided for the residents of Queens and his job should not be "put in jeopardy" because of inadequate bus service.

City Councilman Sheldon Leffler (D-Hollis) called for an expansion of existing services, an increase in rush-hour service and a reduction of the express bus fare. He said he wants the companies to increase their back-up capacity to "address breakdown and no-show express buses."

In order to allay the fears of the bus company employees and the union - Local 100 - Michael Spinner of Oakland Gardens told the committee he did not want to get rid of the bus lines or the express buses, but something needs to be done to improve service.

"My proposal is the Metropolitan Transit Authority take over the seven lines and run them under one umbrella organization," Spinner said. "The days of the mom-and-pop bus line have gone the way of the dollar candy store."

Even though these bus lines receive state and city substitutes, he said, the bus companies are poorly run.

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