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Buses growing more packed: Straphangers study

Passengers are enduring more and more crowding on New York City Transit buses because service has not keep pace with riders and the Q59 bus between Rego Park and Williamsburg is the prime example in Queens.

A survey by the transit activist agency Straphangers Campaign has found that the number of riders on the Q59 has risen 71 percent since 1997 but with service up only 37 percent.

That condition prevails on 30 bus routes in Queens with only Brooklyn showing a worse passenger-to-bus record. In Brooklyn, 46 bus routes lag behind the number of passengers.

“Service isn’t keeping up with ridership,” said Gene Russianoff, attorney for the Straphangers Campaign. “Too few buses can mean more elbow-in-the-ribs crowding.” Russianoff said transit officials are cutting $6 million in bus service this year despite the fact that bus ridership went up by nearly 3 percent in 2002.

Russianoff urged community groups to use the Straphangers analysis to push for more bus service on routes that are overcrowded.

Bus patronage has been rising since 1997 when MetroCards enabled riders to transfer for free from subway to bus or vice versa.

The Straphangers reviewed the amount of scheduled weekday service and numbers of passengers on 184 bus routes citywide.

Passengers on the M60, which starts on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and serves parts of western Queens en route to La Guardia Airport, surged 233 percent with service increasing 126 percent.

Among other Queens bus lines, with bus, change in number of riders and change in amount of service:

Q2, up 49 percent in ridership, 22 percent gain in service. Q4, up 29 percent, 29 percent gain in service. Q5, up 25 percent, 11 percent gain in service. Q16, up 11 percent, 1 percent gain in service. Q30, up 4 percent, 2 percent reduction in service. Q54, up 24 percent, 3 percent gain in service. Q56, up 17 percent, 2 percent gain in service. Q58, up 40 percent, 10 percent gain in service.

The survey said the Transit Authority had increased service to a level that the Straphangers called “significant” on eight routes, including the Q3, Q15, Q27, Q42, Q76, Q76 and Q88. Ridership declined slightly on the Q48 and Q79.

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

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