Elected officials in the Rockaways and one Democratic hopeful for mayor are taking the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to task for its decision to reduce the number of shuttle buses that have been running since Hurricane Sandy wiped out A-train service to the peninsula in October.
But an MTA official said Tuesday that the shift will leave no one without service, and will actually increase the number of buses available during peak morning and afternoon rush hours.
The MTA has been offering the free shuttles, which take people to the A-train station in Howard Beach, since shortly after Sandy destroyed much of the tracks over Broad Channel and Jamaica Bay.
Last week, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway), Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Rockaway) and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio ripped the move, saying it is taking away service people have come to count on before train service is restored.
“Those impacted by this decision are low-income Rockaway residents who rely on strong public transportation to travel around the city,” de Blasio wrote in a letter to MTA Chairman designee Thomas Prendergast.
De Blasio, a Democratic candidate for mayor, said the reduction, from 94 runs on weekdays to 75, and a 40 percent reduction on weekends, would lead to more overcrowding and longer wait times.
MTA spokesman Charles Seaton said the reductions will come from simply a better allocation of MTA resources now that they know when and where the routes are most utilized during a typical day.
He said while some off-peak runs will be eliminated, others will see the buses and drivers shifted to increase the number of trips available during morning and evening rush hours.
“When we set this up, we decided to err on the side of caution with the number of buses,” Seaton said. “What we are able to do now is run the system more in rush hour in peak directions and less during other times in the day.”