2010-02-26 / Front Page

Free Buses Available For MTA Hearing

By Nicholas Briano
Local activists and displeased residents vow to pack a Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) public hearing this week to once again fight for their right to travel free over the Cross Bay Bridge. A free bus ride to join the protest is promised.

Democratic District Leader Lew Simon has announced that there will be at least two free buses available for residents to bring them to the hearing at the LaGuardia Sheraton East in Flushing on Tuesday, March 2. The buses will stop at several locations along the peninsula. One bus will leave the Mott Avenue Shopping Center in Far Rockaway at 3:30 p.m. and make a stop at Beach 51 Street (across from Peninsula Hospital) at 3:45 p.m. A second bus will leave the Breezy Point Shopping Center at 3:40 p.m., with stops at 112-20 Beach Channel Drive (Good Government Democratic Club) at 4 p.m. and Noel Road and Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel at 4:20 p.m. The hearing begins at 6:00 p.m. inside the Phoenix Ballroom of the LaGuardia Sheraton East, located at 135-20 39 Avenue.

Support is being asked for from the Rockaway and Broad Channel residents in hopes of maintaining the toll rebate program that has allowed local residents with an EZ-Pass device to travel over the Cross Bay Bridge for free since 1998. It has been a little more than a year since the MTA first proposed to cut the program, but that battle was won when the MTA was bailed out by the state.

MTA officials have told The Wave that the rebate program for Rockaway and Broad Chan nel residents is the only such program in the city, costing $3.6 million yearly to administer, less than one percent of the $383 million deficit that the MTA has ann ounced. If re si dents, activ ists and elected officials cannot sway the MTA to do otherwise, motorists will have to start paying the discounted E-Z Pass rate of $1.13 each way, starting early this summer. Broad Channel residents, who share the same zip code as their Rockaway neighbors, will have to pay that toll to perform a variety of essential community functions and duties.

Simon asks anyone who is interested in taking the bus to call his office at 718- 945-1216 in order to provide enough seating on the buses.

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