Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office announced Friday an "agreement in principle" with Command, Triboro, Green and Jamaica bus lines to provide for a takeover of these companies by the MTA."The MTA will begin operations of the lines over the next several months with the full transition complete by early summer," the mayoral announcement said.The Bloomberg administration announced a similar agreement with New York Bus Lines on March 22, explaining that the MTA takeover would occur sometime in the summer.The MTA began providing service in areas formerly served by Queens Surface Corp. on Feb. 26.City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing), chairman of the Council's Transportation Committee, said the latest delay in the gradual takeover process was not unexpected."But at least there is an 'agreement in principle' and hopefully a signed deal is not too far behind," said Liu, who held a series of public hearings into why years had passed without progress toward the MTA takeover of the private lines, long criticized for service that passengers in Queens, the Bronx and Brooklyn said was deplorable."The mayor needs to get new buses on these routes immediately," Liu said."With the private bus deals almost finalized, the MTA now has a responsibility to sit down with us to ensure that routes will continue to serve our constituents," Liu said. "We need an assurance that routes will not be eliminated or consolidated."Command, Triboro, Green and Jamaica lines operate 693 buses on 17 express bus routes between Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan and 34 local routes in Queens and Brooklyn. The seven private lines serve 400,000 riders, some 350,000 of them in Queens."While it is understandably difficult to close the chapter on a business that has served New York well for nearly 100 years, we have reached an agreement with the city for an MTA takeover of our operations," said Jerome Cooper, owner of Command, Green, Jamaica and Triboro lines."We would like to thank the millions of New Yorkers who have ridden with us over the years for the opportunity to serve them and their families. We also would like to recognize the contributions of the more than 2,000 people employed at our four companies and thank them for their hard work and dedication."Patrons of the private lines, particularly those serving eastern Queens, told stories of riders enduring longer and longer waits for dilapidated buses that frequently broke down and of struggles to board already jammed buses. One witness at a public hearing testified about a bus operator who was beaten by an irate passenger and treated at a hospital.Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at news@times
©2005 Community News Group
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