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Electeds want MTA to nix Q79 bus cuts

A bevy of Queens elected officials at the city and state level joined borough bus drivers and mechanics last weekend at a Little Neck Parkway bus stop to protest proposed cuts to the neighborhood’s Q79 line.

In an attempt to close a revenue shortfall, the MTA has proposed cuts to a number of city bus lines, including the Q79, which travels along Little Neck Parkway from the Little Neck railroad station to Jamaica Avenue and 257th Street in Floral Park.

But elected officials representing northeast Queens rallied Sunday at a Q79 bus stop in Glen Oaks near the border of Bellerose with members of Rosedale’s Amalgamated Transportation Union Local No. 1056 to prevent the cuts. The union covers workers who are employed as drivers and mechanics for the MTA’s Queens bus division.

“The MTA is still arguing that people should not drive into Manhattan, but they give are giving us no other way to go,” said Assemblyman-elect David Weprin, who pointed out that his former City Council district had no subway lines.

The MTA, which has also proposed eliminating the Q84 line in southern Queens, has said the Q79 is one of the least traveled routes in the city. The agency will hold a hearing on its proposed cuts March 2 at the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel’s Phoenix Ballroom at 135-20 39th Ave. in Flushing.

“It’s not a question of how many people use the bus, but how critical it is,” state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) said. “People use it to get to work, shop or go to school. It’s essential to people who live in the area. Without it, they have no alternative — they are stranded.”

Most of northeast Queens does not have subway service.

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) said the Q79’s elimination would negatively affect senior citizens and students who use the bus for transportation.

“Not everybody has a car,” she said. “When we passed the MTA bailout legislation, there was supposed to be oversight. But I’m not seeing it happen.”

The state Legislature voted for a bailout of the MTA in May to prevent the agency from initiating fare hikes and service cuts. But the MTA has proposed cutting subway and bus lines throughout Queens.

The rally was also attended by U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside), former Councilman Tony Avella, Glen Oaks Village President Bob Friedrich and Council members Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) and Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans).

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

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