Tag Archives: Riders Alliance

MTA approves fare hikes  


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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BY ECLEEN CARABALLO

Another year, another fare hike.

The MTA’s board voted to approve fare increases on Thursday, raising the cost of a MetroCard ride from $2.50 to $2.75 beginning on March 22, according to the transit agency.

Single ride tickets will also increase, from $2.75 to $3.00. Monthly MetroCards will go from $112 to $116.50, express bus fare will increase from $6.00 to $6.50, seven-day express bus MetroCards will go from $55 to $57.25, and Access-A-Ride fares will increase from $2.50 to $2.75. But the bonus on Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard will go from 5 to 11 percent and increase the purchase threshold from $5 to $5.50.

Most Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad rider will see fares increase 4.25 percent or less, according to the MTA.

Tolls were also reportedly discussed and board members agreed to keep toll increases lower for E-ZPass users, as opposed to those who use cash. They are expected to increase by about 4 percent for E-ZPass users, and 6 percent for cash paying customers.

When the subway opened in 1904, it took an additional 44 years for the fare to be doubled from 5 cents to a grand total of 10 cents, reports said. Since 1995, when the fare was at $1.50, the MTA has almost doubled the cost of a subway or bus ride within a mere 20 years.

Last March, fare hikes raised the cost of a MetroCard ride by 25 cents. The transit agency also introduced a “New Card Fee,” where riders pay $1 each time they buy a new MetroCard.

“The MTA has been able to limit these fare and toll increases to the equivalent of 2 percent a year thanks to our continued aggressive cost-cutting, while still adding service and improving service quality for our growing number of customers,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast. “Our financial plan assumes modest biennial fare and toll increases, and the board has chosen options with lower increases for our most frequent customers.”

The agency also said it has cut over $1 billion from its annual spending and has plans to make cuts every year to bring its annual savings to $1.6 billion by 2018.

But John Raskin, executive director of transit advocacy group Riders Alliance, said in a statement that “the real scandal may be yet to come,” if Albany doesn’t step in to help stop the continuing fare increases. 

“If Governor Cuomo and members of the legislature don’t decide on new revenue sources to fund the MTA’s five-year capital plan, larger fare increases are lurking around the corner,” he said. “Paying for public transit with fare hikes is a regressive way to fund a public service that the entire region relies on. We urge Governor Cuomo and the legislature to act quickly to fund the next MTA Capital Plan, instead of passing on the cost to overburdened riders.”

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Curbside bus lanes heading to Ozone Park


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

The busy traffic corridor of Woodhaven Boulevard in Ozone Park will soon be home to new curbside bus lanes on both sides to help alleviate congestion and make for an overall smoother ride for passengers.

Red painted bus lanes going southbound between 101st Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard and northbound between Plattwood Avenue and Liberty Avenue are set to be installed this fall, according to a DOT representative.

The lanes will serve the Q11, Q21, Q52, Q53 and the QM15 bus lines.

The exclusive lanes also help the buses reach subway connections more quickly without removing any travel lanes, according to the DOT.

The lanes will be “bus-only” for specific periods. Between Liberty Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard going southbound, the lane will be in effect from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

All other sections, going in both directions, will be bus-only during rush hours, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“This part of the boulevard is definitely a problem area,” said Jessica Nizar, a representative from Rider’s Alliance and an advocate for the Bus Rapid Transit for NYC coalition effort. “These lanes will help to alleviate some of the major problems that cause traffic here.”

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Proposed Select Bus Service on Woodhaven Boulevard met with skepticism


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Woodhaven residents are bracing for a plan to bring Select Bus Service to one of New York City’s largest vehicle corridors, Woodhaven Boulevard.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is considering the boulevard, which is bordered by Queens Boulevard in the north and Rockaway Boulevard to the south, as a candidate for the next area in New York City to have Select Bus Service (SBS).

Members of the neighborhood met on Monday with the nonprofit organization Riders Alliance to prepare for a workshop on June 25 with the DOT, where the community will be invited to help create an express bus service that will shorten the travel time for bus commuters on the 3.2 mile boulevard.

Kenichi Wilson, who has lived in Woodhaven for 33 years and is the chairman of the Community Board 9 transportation committee, believes that not much will come out of meeting with the DOT.

“They’re doing it and that’s that,” he said.

But the Riders Alliance believes that with enough community participation, the city agency will tailor the express bus service to the area’s specific needs.

Wilson stressed that the area is filled with many businesses that would be negatively affected if the DOT creates lanes dedicated to the buses because it would prevent delivery trucks from double parking in front of businesses on the boulevard.

“I have nothing against it except for having dedicated lanes doesn’t alleviate congestion for everyone. That’s not playing fair,” said Wilson, who is a local business owner. “I have a lot of friends who are restaurant owners who are concerned over deliveries.”

According to a report by the DOT, dedicated bus lanes aren’t the only solution. “Ideas for consideration could include physically-separated bus lanes, center-running (as opposed to curb-running) bus lanes, and use of rail and highway rights-of-way,” the report states.

And Wilson believes that unlike other areas — like Harlem — where SBS has been implemented, bus lanes on Woodhaven Boulevard would not only be unnecessary but would actually increase traffic and congestion, something the express bus service is meant to alleviate.

“It’s not alleviating congestion. It’s actually going to create more congestion,” he said and noted that most of Woodhaven Boulevard doesn’t suffer from bumper-to-bumper traffic. “They’re implementing bus lanes in non-congested areas. That doesn’t make sense.”

 

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MTA increases G train service


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

G train riders can expect an easier commute starting Monday after local lawmakers and transit advocates pushed for better service.

The MTA is boosting weekday service on the subway line, which connects Queens to Brooklyn, between 3 and 9 p.m. Trains will now operate every 8 minutes instead of every 10 minutes.

“This added service will address increased ridership and demand along a growing corridor between Brooklyn and Queens,” the transit agency said.

The MTA is also adding public announcement systems to 12 G train stations that currently do not have them, according to an agency spokesman.

The G train changes are the result of the MTA’s full-line review of the subway line that was requested by state Senators Daniel Squadron and Martin Malavé Dilan.

“Today the G rarely means the beginning of a great ride,” Squadron said. “These improvements will help commutes on this important line—and hopefully make lives a little easier for the riders who depend on it.”

Other G train changes expected as a result of the review include stopping the four-car train at the same place on the platform at all times, marking where on the platform the train will stop with clear signage and running morning trains at more evenly spaced intervals, according to the Riders Alliance, a grassroots organization of subway and bus riders, which made recommendations that were incorporated into the review.

John Blesso, a Riders Alliance member who lives off of the Broadway G train stop, said the implementations are “a solid first step by the MTA and hopefully many more will follow.”

“The G train is increasingly becoming a major artery for Brooklyn and Queens residents, and we need to make sure that service keeps up with ridership on the line.”

 

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LIC welcomes better bus service


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

The Astoria and Long Island City waterfront is getting better bus service.

Improvements to the Q103 bus line, which runs along Vernon Boulevard between Hunters Point and Astoria, began on Monday, September 9. Instead of 25 runs a day, the Q103 will now have 30. It will run every 15 minutes during the morning rush-hour. The line will also start earlier, at 5:40 a.m., instead of 6:10 a.m., and end later, at 7:50 p.m., instead of 7:18 p.m.

The bus service changes are in response to months of State Senator Michael Gianaris and community group Riders Alliance pushing the MTA for better waterfront bus service, along with other MTA improvements.

“As western Queens continues to include our city’s fastest growing neighborhoods, we need to make sure public transportation keeps up,” said Gianaris. “I look forward to continuing to work with the Riders Alliance and members of our community to improve mass transit in western Queens.”

The MTA will also fix the schedule of the Q102 bus in order for the posted times to be closer to when the bus actually arrives at the stops.

“Knowing that my bus will come more often and according to schedule is a welcome change,” said Bobby Preti, Riders Alliance member. “It’s clear that our petitioning worked, the MTA heard us, and we thank them.”

 

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Pols call for review of ‘G’ train performance


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of State Senator Michael Gianaris

An important transit option for Queens and Brooklyn, local politicians are calling for the MTA to review the “G” line and its numerous service issues.

The train, which travels from Long Island City to Kensington, Brooklyn, and is the only subway line that doesn’t go through Manhattan, was extended recently to Church Avenue.

But that change didn’t remedy other issues, such as frequency of trains, communication with riders about service changes and disruptions, and the lack of free out-of system transfers.

These complaints were highlighted in a recent petition campaign by the Riders Alliance, and in a letter to the MTA’s interim president, Thomas Prendergast.

Sent by State Senators Daniel Squadron and Martin Malavé Dilan, the letter asked for a full performance review of the “G” line, as the MTA did with the “F” and “L” trains.

The request is also supported by over a dozen other politicians and transit advocates.

“Constant service disruptions, a lack of service change notifications and increased commuter expenses due to limited free transfers make clear that the MTA treats the G train like the ugly duckling of the MTA system,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris, who attended the Rally For a Better G Train held in Williamsburg yesterday. “It should provide commuters with direct, convenient access between Queens and Brooklyn, rather than forcing travel through Manhattan to get from one borough to the other.”

“The G Train is critical to residents and businesses throughout Brooklyn and a key connection for the growing number of workers commuting between Brooklyn and Queens. Everything possible should be done to ensure this important subway line keeps pace with the thriving communities it serves,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives.

 

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