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MTA OKs deep service cuts

Without an unforeseen cash infusion, the end of June will bring a New York City transit system seriously diminished from the service commuting multitudes have long taken for granted.

“It’s going to be a shock for those riders who haven’t kept current on what’s been going on,” said Gene Russianoff of the transit advocacy agency Straphangers Campaign.

“These changes are on an order of magnitude unlike anything I’ve seen in 35 years,” said Thomas Prendergast, president of the New York City Transit Authority, which operates buses and subways.

It will mean the shutting down of entire subway and bus lines and curtailment of routes of others, longer waits, more jammed subways and buses and the end of weekend service for many bus riders.

The MTA said it can no longer afford to run things as they are now. The agency will save $93 million with the cuts and 1,000 layoffs, but will still face a $378 million deficit. That may mean more cuts in the near future.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said the final day of the V and W subway lines would be June 25, with the M and Q lines taking up some of the slack starting June 28.

The MTA scheduled all remaining bus and subway service reductions to take place June 27.

The MTA board made it official March 24 when it voted 11-2 to authorize the doomsday plan. Only board members Norman Seabrook of the Bronx and Allen Cappelli of Staten Island voted against the cuts.

The board sidelined any decision on what to do about its much-denounced plan to abolish free MetroCards for 600,000 schoolchildren. Its costs $214 million annually.

MTA Deputy Chairman Andrew Saul told the board before the vote: “There will be no help for us and we should face it. Not from the city, not from the state.”

“This is a dark day for mass transit,” said MTA board member Andrew Albert. “This is going to affect the New York way of life.”

Queens bus lines eliminated include the Q14, Q26, Q42, Q74, Q75 and Q79. The Q31, Q48 and Q76 would operate only during rush hours weekdays. The Q15 and Q24 would be rerouted and the Q30’s route curtailed overnight. The Q48’s route will be shortened weekends and the Q26 route shortened on weekdays.

Buses to be eliminated are the X6, X13, X16, X18, X30, X29, X32, X35, X37, X38, X51 and X90. The X27 and X28 would be ended on weekends.

The G subway line would end at Court Square.

The MTA plans a 7.5 percent fare increase for 2011, but MTA Chairman Jay Walder said the agency hopes no hike will be necessary this year.

At a series of public hearings, the MTA modified some of its cutbacks, including the elimination of the resident rebate on tolls on the Cross Bay Bridge, which the people of the Rockaways have long protested. Under the change, they will pay to use the bridge for two round trips a day and then get a rebate for additional trips.

The cuts would also include paratransit service, like the Access-A-Ride service for the elderly and disabled who cannot use buses or subways.

The MTA’s financial abyss is largely the result of much lower-than-estimated proceeds from a 12-county transit tax and $143 million contribution of transit money from the state which was later withdrawn by Gov. David Paterson.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.

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