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MTA takes wheel at Green Bus, mayor expects improved service

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The final two private lines are Jamaica Bus and Triboro Coach, with Triboro to be acquired Jan. 30 and Jamaica Bus on Feb. 20, according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan. Bloomberg announced the agreement for the MTA takeover of Green Lines Sunday. "We believe we will improve service for the riding public as well as provide better value for the taxpayers by having the Metropolitan Transportation Authority operate this and other franchised bus lines," Bloomberg said. The agreement requires the city to pay $25 million to take over the assets of four bus lines owned by the Transit Alliance, which in turn is owned by Jerome Cooper. Under a $7.5 million annual lease, the city is to use four bus depots that Transit Alliance now owns. The city and the seven private bus lines had negotiated for more than a year toward a takeover with New York Bus Lines and Liberty Bus Lines first coming under MTA operation. Queens Surface was later taken over by the MTA, followed by Command Bus Lines. Among issues in the negotiations were the future of more than 150 non-union workers at the four bus lines owned by Transit Alliance. Cooper recently estimated that Transit Alliance buses, operated with city subsidies, carried about 300,000 Queens riders daily. Buses are essential to thousands who live in northeastern Queens and parts of southeast Queens, where subway service does not exist. Complaints about deteriorating service on the private lines, particularly those serving Queens and Brooklyn, kept increasing with passengers telling of longer and longer waits, breakdowns caused by worn-out buses and struggles, occasionally even fist-fights among riders trying to board already jammed buses. City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing), as chairman of the Council's Transportation Committee, conducted public hearings on the long-delayed takeover of the private bus lines, urging Bloomberg to put new buses, stored in Queens and Bronx depots, into operation while the long negotiations went on. Liu also accused Bloomberg of "disrespecting" beleaguered private bus patrons by missing deadline after deadline set by the mayor himself for the takeover.Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext. 136.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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