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Keep W train: West Qns. pols

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Astoria’s elected officials blasted the city’s decision to shut down its W train service last week, saying thousands of western Queens residents rely on the subway to commute to Manhattan.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted Dec. 16 in favor of subway service cuts that would include eliminating Astoria’s W train completely in the spring. The agency also approved eliminating the Z line as well as 21 bus routes and student MetroCards as a way to make up for an MTA budgetary shortfall.

Western Queens residents will now be forced to ride the N train to get them into Manhattan. The N and W trains follow the same line from Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria to Manhattan’s Canal Street before the W splits off toward its final stop at Whitehall Street/South Ferry, while the N heads into Brooklyn.

The Q train, which runs from 57th Street in Manhattan to Brooklyn, will eventually be extended into the neighborhood.

But Astoria residents will be forced to switch trains for rides to key stops in Manhattan, such as the World Trade Center and City Hall, once the W train is eliminated.

“It will have a huge impact on people who want a one-seat ride to downtown Manhattan,” state Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said. “We’re a big commuter neighborhood. Thousands of people rely on the W to get to work. We’re going to have a problem with people waiting longer for trains.”

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) said the cuts were a result of the MTA’s inability to control its expenses.

“The W train serves a neighborhood which is increasing ridership almost daily, while using an antiquated elevated train line as its one route in and out,” he said. “We need more trains and better service, not the complete elimination of a line.”

Vallone sent a letter last week to MTA Chairman Jay Walder in which he questioned the agency’s commitment to improving borough subway service.

“The MTA has shown an inability to provide fair and comprehensive service to all city residents, frequently making Queens the whipping boy for all of New York,” he wrote. “The borough experiences unreliable and overcrowded service and has repeatedly been neglected when it comes to MTA improvements like creating new elevators and expanded lines. There is no reason why the residents of Astoria and Long Island City cannot be afforded the same level of service as residents in other areas of the city.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Updated 6:29 pm, October 10, 2011
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