Agreement Set On MTA Bus Takeover
New York City and the Transit Alliance reached an agreement on the transfer of the remaining private subsidized bus companies – Green Bus, Jamaica Bus, Triboro Coach and Command Bus companies – to the MTA, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the Transit Alliance announced Wednesday.
With the deadline staring them in the face, the city and the Transit Alliance signed a contract providing for the transition of the franchise bus service to be completed by February 20, 2006. After two years there is now a definitive timetable.
According to the agreement, Command Bus will be transferred to the MTA on December 5, Green Bus on January 9, Jamaica Bus on January 30 and Triboro on February 20.
“I am very pleased we have reached an agreement with the Transit Alliance Companies,” said Bloomberg. “I look forward to working with the Transit Alliance Companies and the MTA over the coming months on the transition to the MTA operation of the bus lines.”
The four bus lines provide 700 buses for more than 135,000 riders daily for local service in Brooklyn and Queens and express service to and from Manhattan. Under the agreement, the city will acquire the assets of the four lines for $25 million. In addition, the city will lease four depots from the Transit Alliance Companies for $7.5 million per year.
Upon the closing of the transactions, the MTA will provide service in the areas where Transit Alliance Companies operate.
The City Council on Wednesday granted an emergency extension of the operating authority of the four lines until the takeovers become final, according to Councilman John Liu, the chair of the Transportation Committee.
“Hopefully, with the sales closing dates now announced, bus commuters now have hard-set dates upon which to expect new buses to be in service and, at long last, a reversal in the decline of vital bus service.”
The agreement is expected to open the door so that vital issues that the MTA had previously said would not be addressed until after the takeovers are complete can be looked at.
The MTA recently said that once the companies are turned over, new or refurbished buses now sitting in depots could be put on the road to replace the old, worn out buses currently run by the Transit Alliance companies.
The MTA also refused to talk to the unions about workers status after the takeover while the negotiations were ongoing.
The MTA and the city did not return telephone calls to get updates on these issues, nor as to answer questions about any route changes that may be in the offing.
The mayor, who said this agreement is the last of the negotiations, talked about the length of time it took to hand the operations of these four private companies and three others over to the MTA.
“I don’t think anybody quite understood how complex this situation was,” Bloomberg said to reporters. “It was not easy. Some of the owners resisted for a while, but in the end, we negotiated with each one.
“The bottom line is we need to have good service, good public transportation for everybody at the most reasonable price for the straphanger, and as efficiently for the taxpayer. And this is going in the right direction and it finally looks like it’s getting done,” Bloomberg added.