Proposed MTA budget has local leaders fuming

When the MTA executive board submitted its proposed $12 billion2012 Capital Plan on December 21, 2011, the revelation that noadditional train or bus service would be included in this year’sbudget was a slap in the face to several local officials.

Here we are being asked to shell out more and more money [forsubway fares] for less and less said Assemblymember NicoleMalliotakis, who added: It really leaves a huge stress on ourconstituents.

Malliotakis, who says her district was unfairly penalized, iscalling on the MTA to allot $20 million to restore the eight busesin her district — which includes Bay Ridge and part of StatenIsland — affected by the last round of service cuts in June, 2010.Locally, she is calling for the return of the B37 – which waseliminated completely — and the restoration of the X27 on theweekends.

When you compare us to the rest of the city, we lost morebuses, Malliotakis said.

Doris Cruz, the chair of Community Board 10’s TransportationCommittee, agrees.

The service cuts on the buses, particularly on the X27 bus, areunconscionable when you consider how few train options there are inDyker Heights, Cruz said. Look at a bus or subway map and you’llsee.

But MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz claims the agency had nochoice.

We are still feeling the impact of the economic crisis and mustcontinue to focus on identifying and sustaining more than $700million in cost reductions needed to avoid additional servicecuts, Ortiz said. In light of this ongoing economic situation andthe many risks to the MTA’s fragile fiscal stability, restoringservice is something we cannot feasibly consider at this time.

Yet many local residents, particularly those unable to walk upand down the R train subway steps, are crying foul.

I think it’s so unfair, especially for seniors in the area,said 75-year-old resident Marion Goddard. They are alreadyrestricted in what’s available to them. That’s just one more thingto add to their discomfort.

Goddard has lived in Bay Ridge for 44 years. In addition tobeing a yoga instructor, she volunteers at local senior citizenorganizations and says the lack of buses in the area is a frequentcomplaint. She said she used weekend X27 service to Manhattan.

I miss it, she said. I always used to go to the theater,dinner. So many Bay Ridgeites miss that service.

Cruz is also quick to point out that disabled residents havevery few options in the neighborhood.

There is one handicapped station south of Pacific Street on theR train, she said.

It was exactly this issue that led State Senator Marty Goldenand Councilmember Vincent Gentile to file for an injunction barringthe MTA from cutting service for 11 bus lines in South Brooklynback in June, 2010.

But, that lawsuit eventually was halted, said Gentile. Theplaintiffs, Jean Ryan and Jen Halbert, decided to withdraw thelawsuit, he explained, because the MTA has taken baby steps in the right direction. We got theMTA to restore full weekday service on the X37 and X38 express busroutes and the MTA’s Access-A-Ride program now providesdoor-to-door service in Brooklyn. We are now working with the newMTA chief Joseph Lhota to restore weekend express bus service.

And, Malliotakis claims the cost of restoring local bus serviceis insignificant compared to the agency’s sizable budget.

Their operating plan is $12 billion, she said. We’re talkinga billion dollars a month. They couldn’t find $20 million torestore service across my district?

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