Today’s news:

Better bus service

In order to determine whether or not...

It now appears that the mayor will succeed in his goal of taking over the seven privately run bus lines in Queens. If the state legislature approves the plan, the MTA will run all commuter bus service in the borough.

In order to determine whether or not this is a step in the right direction, bus riders need ask themselves one question: are you satisfied with the quality of bus service in Queens? The answer is a resounding no. For years bus riders have complained about the quality of service. Advocacy groups such as the Straphangers agreed with the riders.

The system that the mayor wants so badly to replace had little incentive to respond to consumer dissatisfaction. The bus riders were a captive audience with little affordable alternative. They could take the bus or they could walk.

It isn’t that the owners of the seven bus lines didn’t try to provide a decent service. We are certain that they did. The system itself was not workable. The combination of private and public ownership left riders in the dark.

Under the current system, a bus ride costs only $1.50, compared with $2 on the city buses. However riders had to pay an extra 50 cents for a transfer and couldn’t take advantage of the special packages and discounts offered to other bus and subway riders in the city.

But most important, under the new system, the mayor will be held fully accountable for the quality of bus service in Queens. (Think of it, who do you blame now?) If your bus is falling apart, it will be the mayor’s problem. If the bus routes in your town don’t make sense, it will be the mayor’s problem. If fares go up, it will be the mayor’s problem.

Although we are champions of free enterprise, there are some things that government does best. Public transportation is one of them. Furthermore there is reason to question whether the combination of private and public service in Queens ever represented free enterprise or whether, as some critics say, it was the result of corrupt political system.

The time is coming soon when commuters in Queens will enjoy the same service that the residents of the other boroughs take for granted.

Where was the INS?

According to the police the Codwise Gang burglarized more than 300 homes before they were finally caught. The sophisticated gang focused on affluent homes in Bayside, College Point, Whitestone, Flushing, Jackson Heights, Corona and Fresh Meadows.

Most, if not all, of the 60 alleged members of this gang hail came to America from Cali, Colombia. They have done enormous damage to the quality of life in northeast Queens. Learning that your home has been broken into and burglarized is a devastating experience that robs families of their sense of security.

Police say that all or most of the gang members may have entered this country illegally. For some of these gang members, this is not their first arrest in America. In fact some have been tried and convicted more than once. Then why are they still here? How is it possible to be in this country illegally, get arrested and convicted and not face deportation?

In the past, we have taken a decidedly tolerant position on the issue of immigration, but we draw the line when it comes to illegal aliens who come to our country to commit crimes. Illegal aliens who get arrested and convicted for stealing, selling drugs or assault should face the certainty of criminal punishment followed by deportation.

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