For many Queens commuters, doomsday has arrived.
The substantial bus and subway service cuts approved by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board in March on Monday morning hit riders like a gust of winter wind on the M-train platform.
And the elevated M is just one of dozens of lines and routes across the city affected by the cuts designed to help close an $800 million budget gap.
According to the MTA, the M, which is now orange instead of brown, has been discontinued in lower Manhattan and Bay Parkway, Brooklyn. It will now travel from Forest Hills-71st Avenue to Middle Village-Metropolitan Avenue via 6th Avenue in Manhattan.
The M replaced weekday V-train service, which along with the W has been discontinued, much to the chagrin of Astoria residents, including City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), who last Friday morning held a mock funeral for both lines.
W-train service has been replaced by the N, Q and R lines in Manhattan and Queens. Long Island City-Court Square features a new G-train terminal. The G no longer operates along Queens Boulevard.
According to the Straphangers Campaign, approximately 570 bus stops across the city have been eliminated.
Straphangers spokeswoman Cate Contino called the bus cuts “the worst reductions by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in decades.”
Rallies by elected officials and union and community leaders to save buses or stave off cuts to service apparently were not enough to save lines like the Q14, Q74, Q75, Q79 and Q89. The Q24, Q26, Q30, Q31, Q42, Q48 and Q76 have been slashed in some way.
Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) blasted the MTA for clipping the Q79.
“Northeast Queens provides one of the largest tax bases in New York City, but we continue to be virtually ignored by the MTA,” Halloran said. “It is sadly ironic that at the same time we are told to use public transit, the MTA continues to take our public transit options away.”
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1056 President Daneek Miller admonished the MTA for not exploring other funding options at their disposal, including federal stimulus money.
Miller and ATU membership also are concerned with driver layoffs that are part of hundreds of job cutbacks across the MTA.
“Considering, in particular here in Queens, in communities that depend on public transportation, it’s deplorable that [the MTA] uses these people as pawns to undermine the union,” he said. “That’s the next fight — that these people end up with the service they deserve.”
MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz noted the cuts are a sign of economic times.
“We’ve been clear from day one, when these changes were first proposed, that we were facing a significant budget deficit that would have an impact on passengers,” Ortiz said.