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Queens Chronicle

Some buses back, but not all on board

Northwest feels passed over as MTA restores routes in north, east

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Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 10:39 am, Thu Aug 2, 2012.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will add or restore service to several bus routes in northern and eastern Queens between October and January.

The plans are included in a group of so-called service investments presented to the MTA’s board at a meeting on Wednesday.

The board also heard a financial presentation for 2013 which is assuming a 7.5 percent, $450 million combined increase in fares for buses, subways and commuter rail travel, though an MTA spokesman said it is far too early to say what fees will be raised and by how much.

The Q27 line, which runs from Main Street-Flushing to Queens Village and Cambria Heights, will gain restoration of overnight service via Springfield Boulevard from the Horace Harding Expressway to Cambria Heights.

The Q30, which runs from Little Neck Parkway to the Jamaica railroad station, will add service to Queensborough Community College in Bayside.

The Q36, which serves Floral Park, Bellerose, Glen Oaks and Little Neck, will restore service along the old Q79 route by making every other trip from Jamaica Avenue to Little Neck via the Little Neck Parkway.

The Q42 between Jamaica and Addisleigh Park will see a restoration of midday service from Jamaica Center to St. Albans via Archer Avenue.

On the Q76 line, which serves Jamaica, Jamaica Estates, Fresh Meadows, Bayside, Whitestone and College Point, the MTA will restore Saturday service and add Sunday service between Jamaica and College Point along Francis Lewis Boulevard.

And in South Queens, the Q24, which runs from 169th Street in Jamaica to Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn, will have the spur running along Broadway between Bushwick and Broadway Junction restored.

The Q76 changes are scheduled to be implemented in October, with the remainder coming on line in January 2013.

In announcing the changes last week, MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said subway ridership is approaching levels not seen since the 1950s, while commuter rail ridership is approaching all-time-records.

“The service investments ... will give our customers more connections to where they want to go, more options on nights and weekends, and more reason to stay out of their cars and take buses, subways and commuter trains instead,” he said.

The restorations are part of a package that includes increased service on 40 bus, subway and commuter rail lines within its system.

Many of the initiatives restore services or entire routes that were eliminated in the 2010 budget crisis when the MTA was forced to cut $93 million in costs.

They will cost about $29 million, and will be paid for, the MTA says, with continued savings and increased revenue from higher ridership.

Where residents and elected officials stand on the restorations depend on where they live. The Q42 and Q76 run through and near the district of Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans).

In a statement issued by his office, Comrie praised the MTA for taking a step in the right direction.

“Queens is a commuter borough and this reversal makes sense for its residents” Comrie said. “The restoration to these bus lines will help those who rely on public transportation. When these lines were cut, many families had a hard time getting to work or getting their children to day care and after-school programs.”

Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside), whose district sits at the other end of the Q-76, also was pleased.

“The Q76 travels through a large section of Queens, connecting to numerous other bus lines,” Braunstein said, adding that many residents of his district, such as those in Whitestone and Auberndale, lack convenient access to subways.

Civic and elected leaders along the old Q79 line are awaiting stops and schedules for the new Q36 extension, but were upbeat last week.

Eastern Queens United, a coalition of more than a dozen civic associations, had been working for service restoration since the route was cut two years ago.

In a press release issued last Thursday, the group said the 2010 cuts kept seniors and low-income residents prisoners in their own homes.

“It is still unclear if the Q36 will cover the entire route of the Q79 and the days and times it will run,” noted the statement. “The success of this route change will depend on this, and we are hopeful that the entire Q79 route will be incorporated into the modified Q36 bus line.”

City Councilmen Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) and Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), veterans of the battle to restore the Q79, both praised the MTA for the move.

But not everyone is singing Lhota’s praises. Elected officials from Astoria hosted a press conference during Tuesday morning’s rush hour at the Ditmars Boulevard-31st Street stop of the N and Q subway lines, which also used to serve the defunct W train.

They called on the MTA to reinstate the W and the QM22 express bus into Manhattan as long as it is restoring services elsewhere in the city.

“You don’t need to spend more than five minutes on 31st Street to see that this is a growing community,” said Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria). “We need more service here, not less.”

She and Costa Costantinides, who is running for the City Council, said one of the aims of the MTA should be to get more people out of their cars and onto mass transit.

State Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria) said he was pleased that some routes have been restored, but that it is unacceptable that the entire northwestern section of Queens seems to have been left out in the final cut. But neither he nor anyone else offered specific suggestions for funding the two lines.

He called on the MTA to reassess its new routes. But he stopped short of saying that the MTA should cut other routes or services in order to fund their request.

“They have the money, as they are restoring other service routes,” Gianaris said. “They are restoring them in a discriminatory fashion.”

Flushing resident Ali Fadil has been spearheading a drive to get the MTA to add a downtown Manhattan spur to the QM20 route, which runs between Bay Terrace and 34th Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan.

Fadil has been told by elected officials and the MTA that the plan, which would eliminate a two-fare ride into downtown from Northeast Queens, is a good idea.

“But so far, we haven’t seen any action,” he said in an interview on Monday.

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