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The Civic Scene: Transit officials thinking of bringing faster bus service to Qns.

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The city Water Board is a body appointed by the mayor whose main job seems to be to increase water rates paid by homeowners, co-op owners and business people. For this, board members receive pay. Looks like a good patronage job.

In 2007, the board raised rates 12 percent; in 2008, rates were raised 14 percent. There is another 12 percent proposed rate increase this year. Money is supposed to pay off the debts they had accrued before 1985, but is used to provide money for current city expenses.

The proposed rate increase is on hold now, but if passed will provide the mayor with over $123 million for the city’s general fund. About $5 million goes to pay for the FDNY to inspect fire hydrants, $30 million to the city Sanitation Department for street sweeping and over $53 million for other city services. If the Water Board raises rates, it will probably do it during the summer, when people are away and cannot fight back.

Speaking of doing things during the summer when people are on vacation, the New York City Transit Authority is planning to add Select Bus Service, also called Bus Rapid Transit, to Queens. There is currently one route in the Bronx, on the Bx12 line. These routes are supposed to speed up bus travel. The bus travels in a specific lane. The bus has the traffic signal right-of-way. The passengers pay their fare from special boxes prior to boarding. People just board the bus with their paper receipt. Inspectors will check to make sure people are actually paying their fares.

One Bronx resident who rides the route believes the MetroCard fare and separate coin fare boxes for the BRT are too far away from the bus stops. I have some friends who will be riding the Bx12 in early July and give me a report, which I will pass along.

When there were BRT route suggestions for Queens, officials visited Community Board 8 and made a presentation several months ago. The board members turned down the proposal, which was for Union Turnpike, the service road of the Long Island Expressway, Hillside Avenue or Merrick Boulevard because shop owners were afraid the designated bus lane, which might run in front of their stores, would keep people from parking in front of them and go shop.

My suggestion was the city should keep people from parking or stopping in bus stops so regular buses along shopping streets could move rapidly. I warn readers traffic agents patrol Union Turnpike and ticket any car that stops at a bus stop.

Several weeks ago, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority held a hearing to discuss BRT for Queens. The only problem was that CBs 8, 11 and 13 were not officially told of the hearing. Patricia Dolan of CB 8 and the Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association learned about the hearing and attended it. Was the reason CB 8 was not informed about the hearing because it had turned down the BRT line previously or was it incompetencei

GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: We can learn a lot from e-mails, but many criminals are using them to scam unsuspecting people. Currently, due to the fading U.S. economy, online criminals are defrauding people.

The scammer offers to help consumers solve their economic problems by posing as a financial institution, government agency or credit counseling service. When people trust someone online, criminals seek to obtain information so they can steal from the unwary consumer. The scammer either asks for money or obtains a Social Security number, which bank your account is in or your bank account password.

This year, an e-mail scam tells you you are entitled to a government stimulus payment. Sometimes it says your records were checked and you are owed money. You are asked for personal information. You can check to see if there is a blue ribbon envelope seal next to the e-mail message. Do not send information to anyone. Type in the Web site of the agency into the address bar of your browser to reach them. Do not use the e-mail address sent to you.

Your legislators or community board can put you in contact with state or federal agencies, which can help you. For mail fraud, contact the U.S. Postal Service. For tax fraud, contact the Internal Revenue Service. Try to be careful and not give anything over the phone that is personal.

Posted 6:35 pm, October 10, 2011
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