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Vallone, residents bid farewell to W

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) joined a swath of Astoria’s community leaders and residents Friday to hold a mock funeral along 31st Street where they mourned the final day of W train service to the neighborhood.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted Dec. 16 in favor of subway service cuts that would include eliminating Astoria’s W train and Forest Hills’ V line. On Friday, Vallone warned that the elimination of the lines would lead to longer waits for western Queens residents to get into Manhattan.

“Unfortunately, we have gathered here today to say goodbye to the W and V,” said Vallone during a news conference Friday morning in front of the elevated train at Astoria’s Ditmars Boulevard station. “It’s not the end, it’s the beginning — of longer waits. This did not have to happen. It’s not an accidental death.”

The MTA also made cuts to the G line and 21 bus routes to make up for a budgetary shortfall.

Western Queens residents must now ride the N train or the Q train, which is being extended into Astoria, to get them into Manhattan. But they will have to switch trains in Manhattan to get to key stops in that borough, such as the World Trade Center and City Hall, that were covered by the W’s route.

The W train began at Ditmars Boulevard and ended at Manhattan’s Whitehall Street/South Ferry stop.

“As in the case of all deaths, it’s the living who are really affected,” said Gene Russianoff, of the Straphangers Campaign, on the W’s demise. “The W was murdered. Whodunit? Gov. [David] Paterson and the MTA left our subways inadequately funded.”

Astoria residents stood with signs reading “R.I.P. Rest in Peace, W Train” and “Please Do Not Cut Service” during the rally.

Vallone said an estimated 1.3 million people would be affected by service cuts across the five boroughs. He blasted the MTA’s decision to cut a line in Astoria, which he contends is one of the city’s fastest growing neighborhoods.

Costa Constantinides, a Democratic district leader, said members of the community’s Powhatan Regular Democratic Club, the Manhattan Democratic Club, the Long Island City Alliance and Queens Young Democrats were going to ride the train from Times Square to Ditmars Boulevard to protest the cuts.

“We have one of the highest asthma rates in the city,” he said. “If there are longer waits for the train, people will take their cars instead. That’s not what we need.”

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

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