MTA considers takeover of boro’s private bus lines

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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans a massive consolidation and restructuring of the region’s public transit system that the agency says holds out the possibility of a takeover of several Queens private bus lines.

The MTA plan also will mean the Long Island Rail Road will no longer bear, at least officially, its 168-year-old name when it is merged with Metro-North under what will become the MTA Rail Road.

Any MTA takeover of the Queens bus lines is far from definite.

MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow said the changes had been planned so the Queens private bus lines could be taken into the MTA.

But Kalikow said such a move would not be feasible unless the tens of millions of dollars in state and New York subsidies now received by Green Bus Lines, Jamaica Buses, Triboro Coach and Queens Surface remained.

Workers at three private Queens bus lines went on strike for nearly two months this summer. Surveys of riders have sometimes shown dissatisfaction with various aspects of service among the private lines.

“We have an obligation to the public to spend each dollar wisely,” said Kalikow, “and we have come a long way in the past few years. With this initiative, many millions of dollars will be saved when it is fully implemented.”

Katherine Lapp, executive director of the MTA, said the agency has about 62,000 employees but plans “no dramatic change in that figure.” She said no collective bargaining agreements would be “unilaterally changed by the plan,” which must go before the state Legislature for approval by the end of the year. The MTA hopes to have the changes in place by early 2004.

The changes will mean:

The Long Island Rail Road and the Metro-North Commuter Railroad will become MTA Rail Road.

New York City subways and the Staten Island Railway will be operated by an agency called MTA Subways.

New York City Transit buses and Long Island Bus in Nassau County will be run by MTA Bus.

“Once the newly merged (MTA) bus company is established, consideration will be given to having non-MTA transportation providers, including private bus companies that operate in New York City and throughout the MTA service region, join the MTA,” the transit agency said.

“These changes would require the agreement of both the MTA and local governments where the non-MTA providers operate.”

The restructuring also establishes a new capital company to oversee expansion projects such as the East Side Access, the Second Avenue subway line and the extension of the No. 7 line westward from Times Square to Manhattan’s far West Side.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.

Posted 7:24 pm, October 10, 2011
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