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Queens says goodbye to subways, buses

Queens residents and elected officials complained of longer waits for subways and buses following MTA service cuts that went into effect last weekend.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s cuts eliminated two subway lines to Queens and eight bus lines, while several other routes have been reduced. The city’s discontinued lines ´╗┐saved the agency $93 million of an $800 million budgetary shortfall in 2010.

But Queens straphangers said they faced longer waits at the borough’s subway stations after the MTA cut the W train, which ran from Astoria’s Ditmars Boulevard to Manhattan’s Whitehall Street/South Ferry stop, and the V train, which took passengers from Forest Hills to Manhattan, Friday.

“I did take the V a lot, so it’s a big pain that the MTA got rid of it,” said Scott German, 34, of Forest Hills. “It’s like the MTA has some kind of vendetta against Queens.”

The M train has been extended into Middle Village and out to Forest Hills as a replacement for the V train, which made stops at 23rd Street in Long Island City, Queens Plaza, Steinway Street in Astoria, 63rd Drive in Rego Park and Grand Avenue in Elmhurst.

Bridget DeMaouy of Astoria said the elimination of the W had not affected her commute too greatly since the MTA extended the Q train into her neighborhood.

“So far, I’ve only done this for a day and there’s not too much of a change,” she said Tuesday. “Because the Q is running, it’s not been too bad for me. Though, I’d love it if they added more trains.”

But while the Q train now runs from Astoria to Brooklyn, it does not go to a number of key sites in Manhattan that were on the W line, such as City Hall or the World Trade Center stop. Some stops were also eliminated along the G and N lines.

In a statement, the MTA said it had several thousand stops to get in order as part of the route changes.

“We acknowledge some confusion among customers as would be expected in a change of this magnitude,” the statement said. “There are still some software upgrades that need to be made on new technology trains so that automated announcements, strip maps and video screens reflect the changes.”

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) joined a large group of commuters from Astoria Friday to hold a mock funeral on 31st Street, where they mourned the “death” of the V and W trains.

“They are eliminating trains from one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in the city,” Vallone said. “Astoria is one of the fastest-growing neighborhoods. This is incompetence.”

Queens elected officials and community leaders also took the MTA to task for cutting eight bus lines in the borough, including the Q14, Q42, Q74, Q75, Q79, Q89, QM22 and QM23.

“These buses provide a lifeline to seniors, working families, students and small businesses,” state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck) said. “It’s bad for everyone in Queens, not just bus riders. Yet, instead of cutting bureaucratic waste, the MTA is abandoning us completely. It’s cruel and unacceptable.”

The Q79 runs along Little Neck Parkway through Glen Oaks, Bellerose and Floral Park, while the Q75 makes stops between Oakland Gardens and the Jamaica terminal.

The Q14 runs between Whitestone and the Flushing terminal, while the Q42 also runs between Addisleigh Park and the Jamaica terminal and the Q74 goes to Queens College and Main Street, both of which are in Flushing, and Forest Hills.

The MTA is also reducing service on the Q24, Q30, Q31, Q76, X32 and X51.

All bus cuts went into effect Monday morning.

Glen Oaks Village President Bob Friedrich rallied with northeast Queens residents along Little Neck Parkway Sunday to protest the cuts.

“Make no mistake about it that the loss of this route is a failure of our elected officials,” he said of the Q79’s elimination. “Just as they would have taken credit for saving the service, they must now be held accountable for its demise. This is not Manhattan where subways and buses provide redundancy for riders. We pay the same taxes and we should be demanding and getting the same services.”

One member of the Amalgamated Transportation Union Local 1056 protested outside the Parsons/Archer subway station in downtown Jamaica, calling on the MTA to reverse its cuts.

“The bottom line is public transportation cannot be viewed as just a private sector, market-driven service,” said Daneek Miller, president of the union. “It provides the economic and social hub of our society and the lifeline of all our citizens. No reasonable person or entity can support these harmful service cuts.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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