City to Miss November 30 Deadline On Bus Transfer
By Miriam Rosenberg
Transportation committee members Addabbo and Liu (the committee’s chair) sent a letter to Mayor Bloomberg on November 17 in which they stated the issue is the decline in service and not the missed takeover deadlines.
“While we accept you need more time to effectuate the takeover by the MTA, we cannot accept the horrendous service our constituents are forced to endure,” said Addabbo and Liu in their letter. “The bus riders are being held hostage in the cat-and-mouse game you play with the private bus companies.”
To remedy the situation, the councilmen asked that hundreds of new buses, currently in MTA depots in the city, be turned over to the private companies.
Addabbo and Liu continued their letter by saying “We demand that the city reverse the service deterioration by getting new buses on these routes.”
In October, MTA spokesman Tom Kelly told The Wave any buses sitting in depots could not legally be handed over to the private lines until the takeover is complete.
“We have no relationship [with the private companies] and we cannot give out our equipment to private lines, said Kelly at the time.”
The claim of hundreds of new buses sitting in MTA depots was confirmed by transit spokesperson Mercedes Padilla, who said that “by law MTA buses cannot be used by private companies.”
The councilmen addressed the MTA’s claim that the buses cannot be turned over until an agreement is reached. In their letter to Bloomberg they wrote, “You can arrange for a simple agreement between the MTA and the private companies in short order. Besides, need we remind you that, the MTA purchased these buses with $160 million of federal funds you ceded to the MTA?”
The letter concluded with Addabbo and Liu telling Bloomberg “There is no reason why bus riders in Queens and Brooklyn should be treated second-class, having to suffer long waits, crowded packed-in conditions and breakdowns en-route to and from work. Get the buses out of storage and out to the riders! Enough is enough!”
Earlier this week, Addabbo explained to The Wave that the main stumbling blocks for completing the negotiations for a MTA takeover are labor issues.
“At this point [it] lies in the hands of the administration, the MTA and – to a certain extent – the union reps,” said Addabbo, who is chair of the council’s Civil Service and Labor Committee. “All three need to push to get the labor issues resolved. Until it happens, we’re going to keep going around this merry-go-round.”
At a recent hearing, Addabbo says labor representatives told him there are no new talks scheduled.
“They have reached out to the MTA,” Addabbo said. I’m not optimistic it will be resolved anytime soon.”
As for the problem in getting the buses in the depots on the road Addabbo, said “I’m of the [mind] that anything can be worked out with written agreement, pending labor issues.”
Although the city council has given a three month extension for the talks,
Addabbo said there is no new deadline for the takeover. “We have until February to clean this up,” he said.
Jordan Barowitz, speaking for the mayor’s office, told The Wave on Tuesday that “We believe we can get it done by [November] 30 or a short time after.”
While he said that Councilman Addabbo is not privy to the talks, Barowitz said that the negotiations with the owner of the four remaining private companies – Jerome Cooper – are going well.
This will be the sixth deadline since 2003 (five self-imposed by the mayor) for the completion of the takeover of the seven private lines to the MTA. Three other private lines were taken over by the MTA earlier this year.