2013-04-26 / Columnists

MTA Cutting “A” Shuttle Bus

Pols Cry Foul
By Miriam Rosenberg

At a press conference in Far Rockaway last Friday, city and state politicians, along with union representatives announced that the MTA was planning to reduce the shuttle bus service between the Mott Avenue subway station and Howard Beach beginning Monday morning. According to Public Advocate Bill De- Blasio the MTA is planning to cut weekday shuttle bus service by 20 percent or a reduction of 94 to 75 runs. Weekend service would see a cut of 40 percent.

“A tale of two cities is never more clear than here in the Rockaways,” said De- Blasio. He added, “These aren’t just cuts. They are cuts to the transit lifeline for thousands of low-income people still suffering from Sandy.”

What’s even worse, DeBlasio pointed out, is that as the MTA is cutting service in Rockaway, it is adding new service “for folks who are obviously doing quite well” to the Hamptons.

“It is unfair to take away from Rockaway something that they need,” said the public advocate.

Cornell Winn, an MTA bus driver who has been on the job for 15 years, spoke with The Wave. “My depot went from 19 runs to five runs,” said Winn, a Rockaway resident. “That’s 14 less buses out there. It’s going to be crazy because there are not enough buses in the morning... You need more, so you can’t make any cuts.”

According to The Gothamist, an online news outlet, MTA officials insist that these schedule changes are actually meant to improve service, and not further inconvenience Rockaway commuters. “We are actually improving service for peak period customers (the majority of customers using the shuttle) by shifting additional runs from off peak periods,” MTA Spokesman Kevin Ortiz told Gothamist. “There is no need to operate the same level of service during off peak periods because ridership is lighter and buses complete their trips quicker because of less traffic. For off peak customers, this equates to waiting an extra one minute for a bus.”

Still, Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder said, ‘This is not about luxury, it’s about putting people back to work... It’s about recovery, healing and doing more to help people who are struggling. I want to see the people making those decisions come out here... and answer to the people they are depriving.”

Councilman Donovan Richards added, “How can they think of cut-ting a community that needs it now more than ever... They need to increase service, not decrease it. The MTA needs to get it right.”

State Senator James Sanders Jr. said, “There is something wrong with [worrying about] taking the well-heeled to the beach than workers to their jobs.”

Rider Bertha Shiversa heard about the cuts as she was running to catch her bus. “They cut service and it’s hard enough to get over here to them, and then they’re going to cut them,” said Shiversa, of Dix Avenue. “And I have a handicap. My daughter has to go to a specialist and they’re going to cut.”

MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz told the Daily News that the changes are to make service better by increasing peak hour service and decreasing off-peak service.

“These are adjustments that get us away from operating the same level of service 24/7,” said Ortiz. “We are increasing service in the peak direction during morning and evening rush and reducing mid-day and night service.”

Since Sandy knocked out hundreds of feet of rail between Rockaway and Howard Beach residents have not had direct A line train service into the city. The MTA initiated the 24/7 shuttle bus service until repairs are completed. According to Paul Patafio, the vice president for TA Surface Division of TWU, Local 100, the latest update on completion of repairs is the end of June.

DeBlasio urged that residents go to saveourshuttle.com to voice their opposition to the schedule changes.

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