2013-04-24 / Front Page

De Blasio, Transit Workers Union Local 100 Slam MTA For Slashing Shuttle Bus Service In Rockaways

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Transport Workers Union, Local 100 slammed the MTA for slashing shuttle bus service in the Rockaways, even as it markets a new “Dream Ride” service to vacationers en route to the Hamptons. The shuttle bus replaced the A train after Superstorm Sandy and is a lifeline for thousands of residents in neighborhoods like Arverne, Edgemere and Far Rockaway.
 
At a press conference in Far Rockaway, de Blasio and TWU workers were joined by Assembly Member Phil Goldfeder and Council Member Donovan Richards. They demanded the MTA rescind its plans to reduce shuttle bus service until repairs to the A train have been completed. De Blasio launched an online petition and released a video calling for the service to be preserved at www.SaveOurShuttle.com.
 
“Talk about a Tale of Two Cities! These aren’t just cuts—they are cuts to the transit lifeline for thousands of low-income people still suffering from Sandy,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “The MTA can’t throw the Rockaways under the bus. If it can expand service for Manhattanites weekending in the Hamptons, then it can afford to do right by hard-hit families in the Rockaways.”
 
“It is outrageous that our Queens residents currently face the longest commute averages in the city because of the severe lack of reliable transportation,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. “Our communities are still struggling to rebuild from the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, and the last thing they need is to be nickeled and dimed for service that is crucial to helping them recover. I strongly urge the MTA to restore this viable service to the Rockaways that would not only improve our transportation infrastructure, but allow our neighborhoods to get back on their feet after Sandy.”
 
“The idea of cutting down on transportation in an area that is so in need is outrageous,” Council Member Donovan Richards said. “At a time where we should be exploring more options for public transportation in the Rockaways, this is the last thing we need. This shuttle service provides an essential lifeline with the rest of New York City for our residents in one of the areas hit hardest by Sandy. If anything, what we really need is more buses during peak morning and evening hours. I will fight against this service cut until it is resolved in a way that will not hurt people in the Rockaways.”
 
On Monday, April 22, the MTA will cut weekday shuttle bus service by 20 percent, from a total of 94 runs to 75. Weekend service will be cut 40 percent. The A train shuttle serves a replacement for the 10-car A train, which hasn’t operated to the Rockaways since Superstorm Sandy. Because each shuttle bus can only carry half the passengers of a single subway car, reductions in service will worsen overcrowding, increase wait-times, and prevent riders from boarding buses when they arrive.
 
Even as it prepared to slash shuttle bus service, the MTA announced a new “Cannonball” train to speed New Yorkers to getaways in the Hamptons, describing the service as a “dream ride” complete with beverage and snack service at your seat. Meanwhile, average household income for riders in the Rockaways losing service is $18,370—among the lowest in the City.
 
Sign the petition and watch the video at www.SaveOurShuttle.com.
 
In a letter to the MTA, de Blasio and TWU demanded the continuation of shuttle bus service at the current rate until A train repairs were complete. Read the full letter:
 
April 18, 2013
 
Thomas F. Prendergast
President
New York City Transit
Metropolitan Transit Authority
2 Broadway New York, NY 10004
 
Dear Mr. Prendergast,
 
I write today to urge you to reverse your decision to make deep cuts to the free A Train shuttle bus service that operates between the Howard Beach/JFK stop (temporary terminus for the A Train), and Mott Avenue/Beach 90th Street.
 
On Monday, April 22, the MTA will cut weekday shuttle bus service by 20 percent, from a total of 94 runs to 75. Weekend service will be cut 40 percent. This shuttle service is the lifeline to the rest of New York City for the residents of the eastern section of the Rockaways. Those impacted by this decision are low-income Rockaway residents who rely on strong public transportation to travel around the city. According to the 2011 ACS data from the U.S. Census Bureau, New Yorkers who live near the Beach 44th Street station have the lowest median household income ($18,370) among riders along the entire A train route.
 
At the same time the MTA is cutting shuttle service connecting low-income residents in the Rockaways to the New York City Subway system, the Long Island Rail Road today announced the express Cannonball train will now use Penn Station to transport people from Manhattan to the Hamptons, so folks can get from Midtown to Westhampton Beach without making any stops.
 
No one is suggesting we shouldn’t have strong transit options for Long Island. However, the idea that we would make it more difficult for low-income Rockaway residents in the eastern Queens to access the New York City Subway System, while making it easier for Manhattanites to get to the Hamptons during summer weekends, truly underscores how New York City is becoming a Tale of Two Cities on critical issues like income equality.
 
Restoration of train service is only a couple of months away. The people of the Rockaways have certainly suffered enough. Please, do not add to their burden with this unnecessary service reduction.
 
Sincerely,
 
Bill de Blasio
Public Advocate for the City of New York
 
J.P. Patafio
Vice President, TA Surface, TWU Local 100

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