Fresh Mdws bus riders slam MTA

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Community members railed this week against the MTA’s decision to cut Q74 bus service this summer, saying they will fight the MTA’s decision that they contend will leave thousands of borough residents with longer and more inconvenient commutes.

“This battle is not over,” said Daniel Muchnick, vice president of the Queens College Student Association. “Cutting the Q74 would mean longer commutes, and it would present many more hardships for students trying to get from classes to jobs or vice versa.”

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board voted March 25 to approve what has become known as its “doomsday” plan to fill a $1.2 billion budget gap. The plan includes raising fare hikes and carrying out massive service cuts, including axing the Q74, which runs from Kew Gardens to Flushing.

The bus line has an average weekday ridership of 1,900, smaller than the average city bus route, according to MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz. The Q74 services 16 K−12 schools with nearly 9,000 students, Queens College, two library branches, four senior centers and 13 day−care centers with a little more than 750 slots.

The Q74 line is one of 22 bus routes slated for elimination by this summer if state lawmakers do not agree on a rescue plan.

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D−Whitestone) said while she expects there to be some type of a fare increase, lawmakers are “working to avoid any cuts whatsoever.”

“We’re looking at creative ways to solve this problem, and we’re close,” Stavisky said. “Discussions are ongoing, and I’m hoping it will be resolved.”

Ortiz urged residents to reach out to Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (D−St. Albans) and other legislators to “tell them the negative impact that service cuts and fare hikes will have on their livelihood.”

“Implementing these measures is the last thing the MTA wants to do, but we have no choice given the lack of a sustainable funding stream from Albany,” Ortiz said.

Patricia Dolan, president of the Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association, said she, like Muchnick, is not “taking this as the final word on what will happen to the Q74.”

“I am hopeful the state Legislature will come to a meeting of the minds and produce the kind of funding the MTA needs to retain the services they’re providing to the public now,” Dolan said.

“Public transportation is the backbone of the economy of this city, and we all need to understand that — including the members of the state Senate,” Dolan added. “I am very, very concerned.”

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

Updated 6:32 pm, October 10, 2011
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