Miller, Crowley, Ulrich Blast MTA Over Planned Service Cuts 

While the residents of Woodhaven worry over what will become of the Z Line and the Q56 Bus, our elected representatives went public with their displeasure in a Tuesday morning press conference at the office of Assemblyman Mike Miller (38th District).  Mr. Miller had spoken about this press conference in an exclusive interview with Project Woodhaven Friday Night.  The frigid weather and short notice kept a lot of residents away, but Councilmembers Elizabeth Crowley and Eric Ulrich joined Assemblyman Miller, along with Assemblyman Rory Lancman (25th District), to speak up for them.

They were joined by members of the press and began promptly at 10:30 AM.  "Cutting the Q56 Bus . . . it's very unpopular, and it doesn't make any sense.  Why would you cut the mode of transportation that the majority of the people in the neighborhood use?  Do we expect elderly people, some who walk with assistance, to climb 20 or 30 steps to get up to the elevated line?"  Assemblyman Miller asked as he got the ball rolling.  "We know cuts have to be made," he said, but he recommended that the MTA take a second look at their proposed cuts, perhaps by starting their cuts "at the top."

"The MTA needs to start at the top," Assemblyman Lancman said.  "It needs to reform itself.  It needs to restructure itself.  It needs to make itself a well-run organization.  Once it does that, once it begins to operate efficiently ... then we can talk about the possibility of sensible cuts.  But to lead off with" the types of service cuts that are proposed "is very insensitive to the needs of the people we represent."

Elizabeth Crowley then stepped up to state that these cuts are "too drastic and they will be devastating to our community.  All too often, New Yorkers are asked to have to get by, by paying more for less.  And that's exactly what the MTA is doing with this plan."

Eric Ulrich blasted the MTA, stating that the cuts were "a direct slap in the face to the working men and women of this city.  I believe that it targets the most vulnerable populations: the senior citizens and the children."  He went on to make the point that when you take away the Q56 "you are taking away access to the stores along Jamaica Avenue... the main economic engine for this community.  And when Jamaica Avenue fails, the entire community fails... when the MTA walks away from this community... they are slapping our faces... and they are telling us that (they) do not care about Woodhaven... (they) do not care about the economic prosperity of your community.. and that, to me, is the biggest disgrace.  Here is the first part of the press conference:

Up next, Roseanne Rosato from Queens Multi-Services, spoke about the burden these cuts will place on the elderly and the disabled.

And finally, Maria Thomson of Woodhaven's GWDC and WBID spoke to how these cuts will impact the businesses on Jamaica Avenue and the community as a whole.  She mentioned how we just recently fought and won this battle and now we have to do it all over again.  Here is the 2nd half of the press conference.

There is a groundswell of opposition to this plan because -- simply put -- it's a bad idea.  On the Facebook Page of the Woodhaven Residents' Block Association, member Sandra Reyes summed it up nicely:

I lived in Woodhaven for 23 years and know first hand how important the Q56 is to the people in that neighborhood. The MTA has taking this way too far. Especially with the student metrocards. I am really disappointed in the City of New York and now is the time for the mayor and governor to show us if they are really on the people's side or just in for politics. Words can't describe how I am upset about the cuts and the student metrocards. Shame on the MTA.

NY State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. released the following statement:

In response to the MTA board’s mid-December vote approving a budget that calls for massive cuts to mass transit riders, students, and disabled users of Access-a-Ride, NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., today wished to reassure his constituents.  “Nothing is going to happen right away; the legislature is continuing to work on MTA budget issues and when the legislative session resumes in January, we will work diligently to minimize the pain of such proposed MTA service cuts.” The Senator stated that the MTA will hold public hearings on their budget proposals and there are other procedural steps to be taken before such cuts in service would become a reality.  Constituents have been telling Addabbo that they are especially afraid to lose free MetroCards for student-commuters, the Q56 bus service along Jamaica Avenue, the Z train running between Jamaica and downtown Manhattan, as well as the convenience of pickups and drop-offs that Access-a-Ride provides the disabled and seniors in the district. “I intend to address all of these issues with the MTA,” Addabbo responded. 

The MTA board has proposed the following service cuts to alleviate their budget shortfall:  eliminating the Z and W trains (Q extended to Astoria, J makes local stops); cutting the G off at Court Square station at all times instead of 71st Avenue/Forest Hills; cutting the M off at Broad Street station at all times; increasing wait times on “letter” subways on weekends to 10 minutes; increasing wait times on overnight trains to 30 minutes; cramming about 18 more passengers into every subway car; charging half price for currently free student MetroCards in 2010 and full price in 2011; eliminating a toll rebate for Rockaway residents who use the Cross Bay Bridge; ending door-to-door Access-A-Ride service for disabled and elderly riders, bringing them to the nearest accessible stop instead; service reductions on Metro-North Railroad and LIRR (Babylon, Port Washington and West Hempstead branches); cramming more passengers on Metro-North trains; cutting managers’ pay by 10 percent; cutting service on several Long Island, Staten Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Bronx buses in addition to X25, X27, X28 and X32 express buses. In Queens, the MTA proposes eliminating the Q26, Q56, Q74, Q75, Q84 buses; eliminating weekend service on the Q14, Q31, Q76, Q79 buses, and shortening hours on the Q30, Q42, Q48, and Q79 bus routes.     


“I will coordinate with other elected officials throughout the district over the coming months to gather information for our constituents that comes out of the public hearings.  I believe that before the MTA fixes its budget problems by cutting services and hurting our people, they should do the internal administrative cuts within the MTA to become more efficient and minimize the pain for its ridership,” Addabbo concluded.

Well, the ball is rolling -- and we've got the right people in our corner.  The next step might need to be a public rally.  Keep your eye on Project Woodhaven for more details! 

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