Gov. Cuomo and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority have announced that an increase in state funding will make the expansion or restoration of subway and bus service in Queens possible within the next 12 months.
The service improvements were announced Monday in connection with the release of the MTA’s updated financial plan.
The improvements include funding for upgrades to service on the G line, which runs between Court Square in Long Island City and Church Street in Brooklyn, and it will run every eight minutes rather than the current 10-minute schedule. The change was one of several recommendations in a comprehensive study of the G line by the MTA.
The new timing will allow for better linking with the F train at Court Square, thus reducing waiting time for an estimated 51,600 weekday customers.
Weekend service on the M train originating from Metropolitan Avenue runs to Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn. Under the new proposal, it will run to Delancey and Essex streets in Manhattan, with the aim of reducing the number of transfers and shortening waiting times for about 37,000 passengers.
Above ground, Eastern Queens will see restoration of weekend service on the Q31 bus line, which runs between Francis Lewis Boulevard and 27th Avenue in Bayside to the Long Island Rail Road station in Jamaica at Archer Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard.
Weekend service on the Q31 was eliminated during the MTA’s financial struggles in 2010.
In their joint statement, Cuomo and Thomas Prendergast, chairman and CEO of the MTA, also said the authority intends to institute Sunday service on the Q77 bus route.
The Q77 runs between Springfield Boulevard and 145th Road in Laurelton to the 165th Street bus terminal in Jamaica.
The new bus and subway service in Queens is part of an estimated $7.9 million slated to be invested throughout the city.
An additional $5.9 million is being allocated for more cleaning of tracks and stations, better turnstile layout and more security cameras.
About $4.3 million will be dedicated to service upgrades in the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North systems.
“We have listened to customers and we are responding with more bus, subway and commuter rail service, as well as enhancements to make that service more reliable and more enjoyable,” Prendergast said.
He and Cuomo both added that the MTA is in a mode of historic and aggressive internal budget cuts, and that there are still numerous financial challenges ahead.
Nevertheless, advocates for commuters and mass transit were pleased in a joint statement issued on Monday afternoon.
Gene Russianoff, staff attorney and chief spokesman for the Straphangers Campaign, had praise for Prendergast.
“Today he is giving bus and subway riders what they want and need: more service,” Russianoff said.
John Raskin, executive director of the Riders Alliance, said the increases could not have come at a better time.
“More people are using the subways and buses now than at any time since 1950,” he said. “The subways are crowded and the buses seem few and far between. Chairman Prendergast and the board of the MTA are exactly right to prioritize restoring and increasing service.”
Veronica Vanterpool, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said the moves are welcome, as the service cuts like those made three years ago hit those of limited means the hardest.
Noah Budnick, deputy director of Transportation Alternatives, which focuses on reducing motor vehicle traffic in the city, praised the governor.
“As head of the MTA, Gov. Cuomo recognizes that New York State doesn’t work without well-funded transit,” he said.