Today’s news:

TLC offers group-ride service

Queens residents who once rode the Q74 and Q79 bus lines that were axed by the MTA will be able to use a group-ride livery van service, city Taxi & Limousine Commissioner David Yassky announced this week.

“The purpose of this program is to provide safe and reliable service in areas that have been impacted by the MTA’s service disruptions,” Yassky said at a news conference Monday outside Queens College. “This is an exciting opportunity for the TLC to help introduce and test an entirely new kind of service that never before existed — one that we believe will help thousands of people get where they need to go in a safe and convenient way.”

The city, in conjunction with private transportation companies, kicked off the yearlong pilot program this week to bring bus service to riders along five former bus routes, including the Q74, which runs between Kew Gardens and Queens College, and the Q79, which goes through Little Neck, Glen Oaks and Bellerose. The three other routes are in Brooklyn.

The group ride vehicle program officially began Monday for the Q74 line and will begin Sept. 20 for the Q79 route, Yassky said.

For riders on the Q74 line, vans will run weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., making stops every 15 minutes during the rush hours of 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 30 minutes at all other times. On weekends, vans will run from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and make stops every 30 minutes.

Every rider will be charged $2 per ride, and the vans can hold between 14 and 20 people. Riders will have to pay in cash. Vans will be marked with signs that read “Licensed Group Ride Vehicle.”

“Our goal is to reclaim the Q74 bus riders,” said Hector Ricketts, president of Jamaica-based Community Transportation Systems Inc., which will operate the Q74 route. “There’s enthusiasm in the neighborhood about this and we want to embrace that.”

Along the Q79 route, vans will run weekdays from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and make stops every 15 minutes during the rush hours of 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and 30 minutes at all other times. Rides will be available on weekends from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will make stops every 30 minutes.

While the vehicles will pick up and drop off passengers at former bus stops, riders will also be able to request that drivers drop them off at sites located between drop off spots, Yassky said.

These bus lines had been cut by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in June to help fill a budget gap of about $800 million.

“The buses operating in these areas were operating below capacity,” Yassky said. “Here you have private enterprises that can provide vehicles needed for the ridership in these areas.”

To request more information about the Q74 route, call 718-297-0710. For the Q79 line, call 516-792-6751.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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