A $40 million MTA budget surplus has leaders from northeast Queens calling to expand service and undo drastic cuts made in 2010.
Elected officials joined in Manhattan Sunday with advocacy group Riders Alliance and Metropolitan Transportation Authority board member Allen Cappelli over the weekend with their eyes on the new state dollars made possible through the 2013-14 budget passed last month, which included an increase of more than $358 million for transit.
The figure exceeded what the MTA initially expected by $40 million, the advocacy group said, because of a recovering economy.
Advocates proposed the MTA consider using the extra money to restore weekend and off-peak service for subway riders, bring back or expand bus service that was cut in 2010 and add evening rush service to the Long Island and Metro-North railroads.
State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) has become a staunch supporter of increased transit options for northeast Queens commuters since her swearing in to office at the beginning of the year and said the surplus money could make a big difference in her district.
“Public transportation is vital to the communities of eastern Queens, where most live in a transit desert, having limited access to trains and relying heavily on buses to get to work, school or important appointments,” Rozic said. “The MTA must realize that now more than ever the loss of service continues to impact our community and the MTA must do everything it can to restore and expand service for riders who all depend on it.”
Rozic stood beside city elected officials, including Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) to call on the MTA’s reversal of drastic $93 million annual cuts made in 2010, which included the slashing of 32 bus routes and reduction of three subway lines. The agency has since brought back $29 million in service restorations, including five revived bus routes in Queens, but advocates said it was not enough to accommodate the latest MTA figures showing ridership at its highest level since 1950.
“The MTA needs billions, not millions, to provide sufficient transit service to New Yorkers. But now that there is a little more in the budget than expected, the first priority should be restoring and expanding service for millions of people who rely on MTA buses and trains,” said John Raskin, executive director of the Riders Alliance. He contended that “$40 million can go a long way to restoring some of the bus and train service we lost in the devastating 2010 service cuts, and to adding new routes that help riders get where they are trying to go.”
Jesse Rosenbaum sits on the Community Board 8 Transportation Committee and rallied alongside his state assemblywoman, who also served on the board.
“Queens subway and bus riders face overcrowding and ever-increasing wait times,” Rosenbaum said. “In a community of students, working families and seniors, it is the MTA’s obligation to work with us and prioritize restoration and expansion for areas in dire need of better transit options.”
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2013 Community News Group
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