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Faux mourners fear G train’s death by many cuts

To the plaintive bagpiping strains of “Danny Boy,” elected officials and transit activists held a mock funeral Tuesday for the G train, imploring the MTA to rescind the massive cuts on the line if heavy financial aid never comes.

Standing near a huge flowered wreath that read “G Train, Rest In Peace,” state Assemblyman Joseph Lentol (D−Brooklyn), sometimes straining to be heard above the roar of trains, said, “The G train has been on life support for years and all of our efforts to revive it have gone completely ignored, despite the tens of thousands of people who rely on it every day.”

Indeed, multitudes of morning commuters emerging from arriving G trains and running for departing trains had to dodge the ceremony participants in the G station at Court Square in Long Island City.

When bagpiper John Maynard ended his mournful concert, the black arm band−wearing “mourners” observed a minute of “subway silence,” after which Gene Russianoff, attorney for the advocacy group Straphangers Campaign, said: “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to ask Gov. David Paterson and [the] state Legislature to spare the train from extinction in Queens by voting [for] new state aid for the transit system.”

Joining Lentol were Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D−Brooklyn) and City Councilman Eric Gioia (D−Sunnyside). Jeffries and Lentol represent Brooklyn neighborhoods that rely heavily on the G line.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which has a $1.2 billion budget gap, plans to terminate the G line at Court Square in Queens on evenings, nights and weekends. It would end service at those times to Forest Hills and much of western and central Queens, as well as Brooklyn.

Jeffries said: “For decades, the MTA has treated the G train like the stepchild of the mass transportation system, starving it of resources and attention. Thousands of commuters in Brooklyn and Queens will be hurt unless the MTA resurrects the G train from the graveyard of neglect.”

Gioia, in whose Council district the ceremony took place, said he felt “we are heading in the wrong direction. We seem to be saying to our citizens, ‘If you don’t have plenty of money, if you don’t drive a car, just stay in your neigborhood.’ We must stop neglecting our mass transit system.”

Russianoff, improvising on Marc Antony’s funeral eulogy for Julius Caesar, intoned: “Friends, New Yorkers, Straphangers, lend me your ears, for this announcement: I come not to bury the G line, but to praise it. The bad service that trains provide lives after them. But if Gov. Paterson doesn’t come to our rescue, the good the G does will be interred with its metal bones.”

“The MTA has said the G line can be cut, that 25,000 Brooklyn and Queens riders can get along without night and weekend service to Forest Hills,” Russianoff said. “These words are a grievous insult to the intelligence of the riding public.”

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e−mail at news@timesledger.com or phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 136.

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