Crowley bashes MTA for its proposals to cut service

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City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) was among six Council members to criticize the MTA at its board meeting for the service cuts in its doomsday budget passed last week to close a $383 million deficit.

The board vote unanimously Dec. 16 in favor of the cuts, which include eliminating the W and Z subway lines and charging students to use public transportation to get to and from school. The changes are slated to take place in June at the earliest.

“In Queens, our kids have to take multiple buses and trains to get to school because we don’t have an option,” she said in a statement. “And now we face service cuts and no more student MetroCards. At this rate, pretty soon our kids will be hitchhiking to school.”

Instead, Crowley, Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) and Councilman James Vacca (D-Bronx) called on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to transfer $140 million of its capital budget to its operating budget.

This money includes more than $90 million in unspent federal stimulus aid that may be allocated toward operating expenses and roughly $50 million in MTA operating funds currently being used to supplement the capital budget. It would offset the $129 million in subway and bus cuts the MTA approved.

“We normally would not favor using capital funding towards operating expenses. However, under these circumstances, this is the only appropriate action to take,” Quinn said in a statement. “The MTA’s decision not to hold a single public hearing for straphangers to weigh in on proposed service cuts or the elimination of student MetroCards is a slap in the face to millions of hardworking families.”

Vacca agreed.

“If bus and subway services are cut the way the MTA is proposing, we will be creating mass transit deserts throughout New York City, stranding hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers,” he said in a statement.

In addition to eliminating two subway lines and 21 bus routes, the doomsday budget will end the G train at Court Square in Long Island City and prompt up to 700 layoffs, Crowley warned.

Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, said the state’s financial crisis was not the MTA’s fault.

“But the Straphangers Campaign believes the MTA has the resources to prevent the service cuts,” he said.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

Updated 6:29 pm, October 10, 2011
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