Queens elected officials, civic leaders and area residents rallied against the MTA’s proposal to eliminate the Q74 bus last Thursday and said the plan would place undue hardships on the many students and seniors who rely on the line that runs from Kew Gardens to Flushing.
“As the lifeblood that feeds the Pomonok Houses, Queens College, CUNY Law School and Townsend Harris High School, thousands of students and residents will be unable to reach Queens Borough Hall, the courthouse and the E and F subway lines on Queens Boulevard,” City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) said. “I urge the MTA to reconsider eliminating the Q74 bus.”
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced plans to cut the Q74 last month in an attempt to fill a budget gap that has grown to more than $400 million.
MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said the transportation authority chose the Q74 for the chopping block because its average daily ridership numbers around 2,100 — more than 10,000 less than the city average of 12,540. The Q74 had been on the chopping block last year as well, but ended up being restored.
“We took a hard look to make sure we were minimizing the impact of our ridership,” Ortiz said. “Unfortunately, given the level of these service changes, folks will be negatively impacted.”
Speakers at the rally, which took place at a Q74 bus stop on Queens Boulevard, said students would be particularly affected because the line services a number of schools, including Queens College, CUNY Law School and Townsend Harris HS.
“If the Q74 bus line is terminated by the MTA, the already long lines for buses like the Q64 and Q88 would increase exponentially,” said Daniel Muchnick, president of the Queens College Student Association. “Their plan may save the agency a few dollars, but makes little sense for our community.”
State Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi and Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) said students and seniors will be unfairly affected.
“The MTA’s response is to go after the neediest communities and hurt people that shouldn’t be hurt,” Hevesi said. “The idea you’d take out a bus that serves thousands of people is a ridiculous notion.”
Lilianna Zulunova, who is running against Hevesi for his Assembly seat, reiterated sentiments that the Q74 is a vital link for residents.
Townsend Harris High School students will also feel the sting of the Q74’s loss, as will students at the elementary schools and yeshivas in Kew Gardens Hills,” Zulunova said.
Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association President Patricia Dolan criticized the plan, saying “people who work for a living depend on this to get to work, and kids who go to Queens College depend on this to go to school.”
Older residents also regularly use the line to travel to various senior centers, Dolan said.
MTA officials announced last Thursday that it now faces a $400 million budget deficit after payroll taxes came up short. State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) criticized this announcement and said the authority’s continued announcements about being in the red “has to stop.”
“We need audits, we need transparency,” Stavisky said.
State Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn (D-Flushing) said the move will force more people into cars and create additional congestion on the roads.
“We’re going to meet with the mayor and the MTA to get them to reconsider this proposal,” she said.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson
©2010 Community News Group
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