City Should Not Give Up On Private Bus Deal
When the Mayor first announced a plan for the city to take over the private bus lines that service the peninsula, Rockaway residents were ecstatic. The three lines that regularly ply the peninsula – Green Bus Lines, Triboro Coach and Jamaica Bus, are uniformly dirty, slow, off-schedule and generally out of tune with the needs of the residents. To add injury to insult, more than $100 million a year in public funds went to those lines and the other four private lines that operate in the city in the form of operating subsidies. The plan for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to take over the lines was cheered throughout the peninsula. Then, the plan began to fall apart. There were enough problems to sink the Queen Mary II – pensions, routes, money, operating equipment. It quickly became clear that the MTA would not take over the lines without receiving the operating subsidies as well. Those who own the seven lines were cut out of the talks between the city and the MTA. Rightfully angered, they demanded an even larger subsidy. They sued the city and threatened to go out of business on January 1 – the day their subsidy agreement ended. The mayor and city council extended the deadline for six months, which is like putting a band aide on a rupturing artery. The private lines continue to cut scheduled runs, refuse to buy new equipment or to fix old and broken buses. The riders suffer. The mayor and the MTA should bring the owners of the lines into the talks and come up with some way to improve the service, to buy new equipment and to move to a program that will add ress the needs of Rock away’s riders. Trans port ation throughout the penin sula and to other parts of the city is a critical issue for Rockaway – too critical to be left to the vagaries of politics.