2005-11-30 / Features

Students Keep Express Bus Half Fare

Assemblymember Mark Weprin (D–Little Neck) announced that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) bus company will once again allow students to travel at half fare on express buses. Weprin had written to the MTA in opposition to charging students full fare when they ride express buses, a change in policy that began when MTA Bus took over Queens Surface Bus Company and had similarly taken a stand against the policy in several newspapers.

Express bus service provides student commuters from Eastern Queens with a safe and convenient method of traveling to and from school. Weprin believes that education should be as accessible as possible, and the discontinuation of half-fare discounts for students who ride the express bus to school runs counter to that goal. Furthermore, the MTA takeover was billed as a measure to increase the efficiency of bus service, and Weprin kept the MTA to its word. Now, students need only show a student identification card to receive a half fare discount.

“I am pleased that the MTA has reversed this ill-considered policy,” Weprin said. “Students should be able to travel to school safely without incurring excessive costs.”

Bill Filed To Stop Zonebusting Brokers

City Councilmembers John Liu and David Weprin are considering legislation to prevent blockbusting, a practice used by some real estate brokers to pressure homeowners to sell their homes by creating fears that their properties will be devalued by changes in their communities.

Liu (D—Flushing), acting chairman of the council of Consumer Affairs Committee, held a hearing on Monday at City Hall to consider legislation proposed by Weprin (D—Hollis) to prevent zonebusting, as Weprin calls the practice.

“Zonebusting, like blockbusting, uses scare tactics to coax property owners and residents into selling their property and homes,” Weprin, council Finance Committee chairman, explained at a City Hall press conference. “That tactic is being used throughout New York City.”

Zonebusting emerged within the past year in Weprin’s district when a real estate company embarked on a campaign the objective of which was to buy up many pieces of property.

Weprin reacted promptly to the threat and the real estate company was forced to abandon its plan.

Weprin’s bill, if enacted, would penalize those who use misrepresentations of physical deterioration or market depreciation in a neighborhood, or refer to the negative impact of land use or zoning regulations in any unsolicited real estate related advertisement in order to induce the purchase, sale or rental of any real property.

The practice of blockbusting arose in the 1960s and 1970s at a time when fears were spread by unscrupulous realtors who spread the news that blacks were purchasing homes in white areas and homeowners still remaining should sell their homes because the new racial makeup of the area would reduce the sales value of the remaining homes in the area. Lawmakers at the time fought the blockbusting menace vigorously and had laws enacted banning the practice and imposing fines or other punishments on those found guilty of employing the fear tactics. In New York, the law is enforced by the state secretary of state.

— John Toscano

Murray Hill LIRR Station Reopens

The much anticipated reopening of the Murray Hill Long Island Rail Road Station in Flushing following a major makeover took place recently as state Senator Frank Padavan led LIRR and community officials in a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Among the improvements made, according to Padavan (R—C, Bellerose), were replacement of the pedestrian overpass with a new covered structure, installation of two new staircases to the overpass and new staircases to each of the station platforms. New benches, lighting, brick pavers and landscaping for the station plaza were also installed.

The renovations were funded by monies secured by Padavan. Improvements at several other stations in NortheastQueens were also completed with the same funding.

— John Toscano

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