With service cuts looming, community activists mobilizeBy
As the looming March 25 deadline for the MTA’s Doomsday service cuts draws ever closer, community activists, New York residents and MTA employees are growing concerned that their bus lines, subway stations and jobs will be lost on the budget chopping block. Over the last few weeks, numerous groups have emerged fighting for the lines. Let’s take a peak at their efforts.
In Manhattan, Save the M8 is a petition-based group run by activist Quinn Raymond. As its name entails, the group is dedicated to saving the M8, a lightly used bus line scheduled for total elimination in the Doomsday plan.
“Eliminating the M8 would have a severely detrimental effect on the most vulnerable members of our community (children, seniors, the poor),” the group’s petition reads. “More broadly, we strongly believe that the State and City must find alternatives to MTA service cuts and fare increases at any cost. These alternatives could include tolls at East River crossings, taxing millionaires, and a corporate payroll tax.”
In Brooklynm, GerritsenBeach.net is running a petition to save the B31 and B2 bus lines. The petition reads:
We, the undersigned commuters, are calling on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to continue to operate regular bus service on the B31 and B2 lines. We are calling upon the MTA to main the B31 service after midnight, as this bus is the only way into Gerritsen Beach. We also demand that the MTA maintain weekend service on the B2 Line. Both of these bus lines service as a lifeline to the rest of the City for the people of Gerritsen Beach and Marine Park. The service is necessary to commuters, whether they be coming home late from work or shopping on the weekends, and is extremely important to a community like ours that is not served by the City’s subways.
In Queens, another bus rider closer to the situation than most is issuing her protest too. Bria Sander, the 15-year-old daughter of MTA CEO and Executive Director Elliot Sander, has voiced her belief that weekend service on the Q76 and Q79 bus routes should not be cut. “The Legislature and governor should think about students who have to go to things on weekends,” she said. “They should think about people who take the bus and consider how many people are going to be upset because some things are going to be shut down.”
Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Eagle writes about a whole slew of other protests targeted at bus and subway service cuts in various sections of Brooklyn. Harold Egeln highlights one of these groups:
In Bay Ridge, “Save the B37 Third Avenue Bus” is among the demands on a petition circulated by Councilman Vincent Gentile and other lawmakers asking the MTA to drop plans to cut bus service in Bay Ridge along a bustling commercial strip. More than 1,000 signatures were collected on Gentile’s petition against the proposed complete elimination of the route between Shore Road in Bay Ridge and Court Street in Brooklyn Heights, as well as other service cuts.
“When I talk to residents about the cuts, they are clearly desperate to save the transportation services they depend on for work, school and errands,” said Gentile. “The MTA’s plans would cut off thousands of people in south Brooklyn alone from crucial parts of their lives, like family, work and doctors.”
Also out of Brooklyn comes word that residents are wary of staffing cuts. The Brooklyn Paper notes that some late-night straphangers are worried about the security and safety risks that could arise if MTA employees are not around to staff stations late at night. (Check back this afternoon for more on this angle.)
Finally, MTA workers are protesting the job cuts as well. With plans to close nearly 100 station booths and turn some full-time booths into part-time operations, the workers are not happy.
“You want to take those booths out of the system,” Maurice Jenkins, a transit worker, said to NY1. “You are going to take the eyes and ears away from the system. Everywhere you go they have signs that say ‘If you see something say something’. Well if there’s nobody there, who’s going to see something or say something?”
I’m sure there are more out there, but these are the major efforts gaining ink over the last few weeks. For the most part, these protests are directed at our state officials who just so happen to be the people holding the keys to an MTA bailout. On Wednesday, when the MTA hosts its first public hearing, the protesters will be out in full force. As long as they yell loud enough and direct their collective ire at Albany, they just might rise up and be the public voices we need to save the MTA.