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Q74 commuters rally against bus line’s removal

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Dozens of Queens residents and lawmakers rallied last Thursday evening in Kew Gardens against the MTA’s proposal to eliminate the Q74 bus line, saying the move would prove disastrous for thousands of seniors, students and residents who use the route to get to and from work.

“Students at CUNY Law, Queens College, Townsend Harris High School and several large yeshivas depend on the Q74 for a quick connection to the subway and Queens Boulevard,” said Patricia Dolan, president of the Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association, which sponsored the rally. “Local residents need the Q74 to get to Borough Hall and the courts, as well as shops in Forest Hills and Kew Gardens. Local businesses need customers who shop Queens’ largest kosher shopping district.”

Those attending the rally waved signs protesting the proposal and frequently received honks of support from vehicles passing by, including a Q74 bus driver. The rally was held near the intersection of Queens Boulevard and Union Turnpike in Kew Gardens.

“I take the Q74 every day, and if the Q74 doesn’t exist, I would have to walk five extra blocks to get the Q88, which is always so crowded,” said Rego Park resident Josephine Vitta, a CUNY Law student. “All that extra walking is not fun for me, because I’m 6 12 months pregnant.”

The Q74 runs from Kew Gardens to Flushing and was one of the lines the Metropolitan Transportation Authority proposed to cut in December.

MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said the authority does “not want to implement these cuts.”

“We’re cognizant of the traumatic impact these service cuts will have on customers,” Ortiz added. “We urge our customers to reach out to their legislators in Albany and urge them to pass the Ravitch recommenda­tions.”

Richard Ravitch, chairman of a commission charged by Gov. David Paterson with analyzing how to restore the MTA’s financial footing, recommended in December the MTA implement, among other things, a “mobility tax” and tolls on the East River and Harlem River bridges to avoid fare hikes and service reductions.

U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D−Forest Hills) and state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D−Whitestone), both of whom attended the rally, said they were doing everything they could to fight the cuts.

“Yesterday, I had three meetings with Richard Ravitch and MTA members,” Stavisky said. “This is unconscionable. They seem to have forgotten folks at Queens College and Townsend Harris. They seem to have forgotten the older adults and the disabled.”

Weiner said some of the $20 billion in aid New York is slated to received from the federal stimulus package could be funneled to the MTA in order to avoid “draconian” cuts.

Ed Figueroa, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Division 1056, said the Q74 services major institutions and slammed the MTA. He urged the agency to look into cutting top−level management in order to save money before it cuts a bus line that services 16 K−12 schools with nearly 9,000 students, two library branches, four senior centers and 13 day care centers with a little more than 750 slots.

“If I cannot take this bus, I would have to cross the very busy Union Turnpike, and that’s very dangerous, especially in the wintertime,” said Kew Gardens Hills resident Margaret Miller, a retired woman who lives in the Regency Gardens apartment complex.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at agustafson@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 174.

Posted 6:32 pm, October 10, 2011
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