The public transit system often seems close to buckling in Queens under the weight of near record ridership even though the number of straphangers declined last year for the first time since 2009.
Every day is an adventure on the borough’s subways and the Long Island Rail Road. Will you or won’t you get there on time? What mischievous genie will disrupt your journey by producing signal problems on the No. 7 train or inside the tunnels to Penn Station?
Signal problems remain a great mystery and just may be MTA tech talk for multiple mechanical failures, but the bottom line is when they occur as they have in the last few days on both lines, riders are out of luck from Hunters Point to Little Neck. In between thousands of frustrated commuters are stranded on overcrowded platforms looking for an alternative route on already packed city buses.
Add to this mix Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to cut $65 million in promised transit funds from the MTA budget next year and we have the formula for serious transit gridlock.
More than 60 members of the state Legislature, including the Queens delegations, have opened a campaign demanding that Cuomo restore the funds. The lawmakers call it a “new front” in the battle over transit money in the budget, which must be approved by both the Assembly and the Senate to take effect.
The looming cut comes against the backdrop of unreliable service and the latest fare hikes, which will eliminate bonuses for MetroCard users and raise LIRR ticket prices March 19.
The $65 million is part of the state’s general fund, which was supposed to be untouched after the state slashed the hated payroll tax back in 2011. The Cuomo administration denies there is any plan to shave transit funds and contends it is adding money to the pot, but New York City pols are crying foul.
As delays mount on the subway system, some riders have turned to car services like Uber for their commute, a shift reflected in the 3 percent drop in ridership last year. But unlike Manhattan, outerborough Queens residents have less access to the ride-hailing services. Fed-up straphangers are also riding to work on Citi Bikes.
Cuomo, a Queens native, knows firsthand how important the subways are to the livelihood of the borough. He must leave the $65 million in the kitty for us. We will live through weekend shutdowns on the No. 7 through March and hope the MTA is right when it says the four-year repair project on the line will be completed this year.
In Queens we like to believe there is light at the end of the tunnel.
©2017 Community News Group
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