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Vallone, Gianaris protest MTA plan to ax W subway

More than 30 western Queens residents braved the cold with City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) and state Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) this week to protest the MTA’s decision to eliminate Astoria’s W subway line.

Community residents held signs and chanted “Save our subway” along both sides of 31st Street near the entrance to the elevated Ditmars Boulevard station, where riders rely on the N and W lines to get them to Manhattan.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted Dec. 16 in favor of subway cuts that will include getting rid of the W train in the spring as well as eliminating the Z line, 21 bus routes and student MetroCards as a method to make up for a budgetary shortfall.

“It was just a few months ago that the MTA said if Astoria paid more taxes, there would be no cuts,” Vallone said. “Obviously, they lied to us. Astoria is a growing neighborhood. We need more service, not cuts.”

Vallone said the city’s decision to raise taxes this year on small business owners should have provided enough money to the city to prevent cuts to subway service. Astoria residents will now be forced to ride the express N train to get into the city after the W, which makes local stops, is taken out of service.

“By the MTA’s own admission, there will be longer waits, more crowded trains and more transfers for riders,” he said.

The Q train, which runs from 57th Street in Manhattan to Brooklyn, will eventually be extended into Astoria. But community residents will now be forced to switch trains for key stops in Manhattan, such as the World Trade Center and City Hall.

“The MTA is affecting people of all types, including kids who use MetroCards to get to school and working people who need the train to get to Manhattan,” Gianaris said.

Donnelly Marks, an Astoria resident and member of the Norwood Neighborhood Association, said she uses the W train to get to work in Manhattan and her son uses public transportation to go to school in that borough.

“The idea that there will be a reduction in service at a time when there’s a population increase in the neighborhood is not too smart,” she said. “As a parent of a public school child, I’m very upset about the MTA’s decision to eliminate student MetroCards.”

Vallone said the cuts were a result of the MTA’s inability to control its expenses.

The W train begins in Queens at Ditmars Boulevard and ends at Manhattan’s Whitehall Street-South Ferry stop.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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