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Talk of Q26 bus cut worries St. Francis Prep

The possible elimination of the Q26 bus line would prove disastrous for many students at St. Francis Preparatory in Fresh Meadows, said Elaine Recker, a spokeswoman for the school.

“It’s going to really affect our kids,” said Recker, who works in the school’s general office. “Many kids take that bus, and without it, they’d really have to go out of their way to get to school.”

Recker could not specify how many students use the Q26 line, one of the routes the Metropolitan Transportation Authority proposed to cut in December.

The Q26 bus route runs from 46th Avenue by the No. 7 subway to Francis Lewis and Hollis Court boulevards in Fresh Meadows.

“This is a measure we don’t want to implement, but we’re waiting to see if our legislators in Albany act,” said MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz.

“We urge our customers to reach out to their local state legislators and tell them to support the Ravitch recommendations, which would eliminate the need to implement these service cuts,” Ortiz added.

Richard Ravitch, chairman of a commission charged by Gov. David Paterson with analyzing how to restore the MTA’s financial footing, proposed in December that the MTA implement, among other things, a “mobility tax” and tolls on the East River and Harlem River bridges in order to avoid fare hikes and service reductions.

St. Francis Prep Social Studies teacher John Hessel recently added a link on the school’s Web site to an online petition asking local legislators, including state Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D−Little Neck) and City Councilman John Liu (D−Flushing), to stop the MTA from cutting the Q26 line.

“They’d have to take multiple buses if there’s no Q26,” Hessel said.

School officials said students would likely have to take the Q27 to the Q76 line, which would be longer than the more direct Q26 route.

“The Q26 is a vital link,” said Liu, chairman of the Council Transportation Committee. “It’s not an add−on option, and for the students at St. Francis, for thousands of seniors who live along the way, and for those who get to and from work on the bus line every day, it’s a necessity that cannot be cut. We’re going to do everything humanly possible to save the Q26.”

Should the Q26 line be cut, which could happen this spring if the Ravitch plan is not enacted, Ortiz said the MTA plans to beef up the Q27.

“Additional funds would be invested into the Q27 to increase service on that route,” he said.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at agustafson@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 174.

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