A pair of eastern Queens bus lines that has been running reduced service on weekends since the MTA took a hatchet to its schedule four years ago will soon begin operating seven days a week.
Beginning April 6, straphangers will be able to ride the Q31 from Jamaica to Bayside and the Q77 from Jamaica to Rosedale all weekend long.
The Q31 had been operating weekdays only and the Q77 Monday through Saturday since they and more than 100 other bus and rail lines fell victim to Metropolitan Transportation Authority budget cuts in 2010.
“It’s something that’s been needed for a long time,” said Mark Henry, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union local 1056 representing Queens MTA bus drivers, calling the restorations “well-deserved and long-overdue.”
The MTA announced last summer it would roll out the expanded services early this year, and last week Henry and eastern Queens leaders gathered at the bus terminal in downtown Jamaica to remind riders of the restorations.
“In my district we don’t have access to subway service and we rely solely on surface transit to get around,” said state Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside), who represents the northeastern-most section of Queens. “Many of my constituents have been having a hard time whether it’s getting to work, getting to doctors’ appointments or attending religious services.”
Representing an adjacent district, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) called the area a “transit desert” and said that while 2010 was a rough year for riders, next year may present its own difficulties with Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposing to cut $40 million from the transit authority’s budget.
“That is something we need to be fighting for,” she said. “That is not OK.”
City Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans), Henry’s predecessor at the Queens bus driver’s union before beginning his first term this year, said communities in eastern Queens that have been “deprived mobility based on their location” deserve to have MTA funds lockboxed so they do not fall prey to the whims of Albany.
And as the union waits to see what next year’s budget will look like, Henry said he would work toward improving other bus service in the borough.
When asked which routes are priorities he said, “Pick a line. Every line needs enhancements.”
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.
©2014 Community News Group
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