Home Service Cuts MTA considering $20M in service cut rollbacks

MTA considering $20M in service cut rollbacks

by Benjamin Kabak

What once was no longer a bus stop may become one again in the future. (Photo by Benjamin Kabak)

Two years ago — to the day, if you’re reading this on Thursday — the MTA, in the face of a massive budget deficit, enacted sweeping service reductions that cut a deep gash through the city’s transit network. Although many believed the authority was playing chicken with Albany, the MTA called the state’s bluff in 2010 when, on June 28, it cut two subway lines, 36 bus routes and around 570 bus stops. Now, the agency may be reassessing these cuts as it prepares its 2013 budget, but the extent of any service restorations will remain contingent upon money and the reality on the ground.

At the time of the cuts, Albany could do nothing. New York State had been struggling financially, and legislatures couldn’t or wouldn’t find new revenue to keep services up and running. In an effort to spread the pain, the MTA included service cuts in its sweeping economic reforms, and since that day two years ago, neighborhoods have been up in arms. The same state representatives who refused to confront the MTA and its problems head on have spent years arguing for the restoration of services. Cries have gone up from every corner of the city, from the M8 to the B77, from Sheepshead Bay to the Bronx.

For years, MTA representatives have said services could be restored if the money materializes, and yesterday, the MTA Board made a similar pledge. According to Board members, up to $20 million in next year’s budget could go toward restoring lost services. I have to believe most of that will go toward brining back the buses, but I’m hopeful some could lead to increased subway service as well.

Matt Flegenheimer of The Times had more from Wednesday’s board meeting:

There is no date. There is no proposal. And there is certainly no guarantee. But for the first time since 2010, when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved deep cuts amid a budget shortfall, there appears to be optimism that some of the services that were eliminated may be restored — provided that the agency’s recent, if tenuous, financial trends and ridership increases hold.

“Not a day goes by when I don’t think about restoration of services and further investments in the system,” Joseph J. Lhota, chairman of the transportation authority, said Wednesday during a monthly board meeting at the agency’s headquarters in Midtown Manhattan. Mr. Lhota added that the authority remained in the “early stages of evaluation” for possible restorations.

Andrew Albert, a board member and the chairman of the New York City Transit Riders Council, said that some board members had discussed a $20 million restoration fund — enough to bring back some bus, subway or commuter rail services, but probably far too little to return to former levels. “It looks like some figures are trending in the good direction, versus what we’ve seen last year,” Mr. Albert said. “The fact that the chairman is talking about it, and several board members are talking about it, I think bodes well.”

According to Flegenheimer’s report, many MTA Board members are also concerned that the looming fare hikes, guaranteed a few years back, will leave a very bad taste in people’s mouths without a corresponding bump in service. “It’s awfully hard to ask people to pay more when they’re getting a lot less,” Albert said.

Of course, a pair of issues remain, and first between those is money. When asked about the dollars, former Gov. David Paterson, the newest addition to the MTA Board, hedged. “This is the problem,” he said. “Everybody could tell me what they didn’t want cut, but no one could tell me how we balance the budget.” It’s still the problem as New York politicians want service restored but have no plans to pay for it. The MTA will likely have to move some money around and hope for a recovering economy.

The second problem though is a tougher one to overcome. In the aftermath of the service cuts, NYC DOT, the party that controls the city’s bus stops, uprooted many of the then-defunct stops, including all of the shelters and poles along B71 just around the corner from my apartment. The CEMUSA shelters are gone; the bus stations are now parking spots. The MTA isn’t going to restore those services; we’ll never get many similar routes back.

Still, it’s hard not to be optimistic here. Politicians have responded to their constituent demands, and the MTA is listening to those in positions of power who can exert some influence over the authority. By the time 2013 rolls around, we’ll likely have more service then than we do today, and that’s a net positive for the millions who need public transit in New York City.

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Larry Littlefield June 28, 2012 - 6:27 am

There has been an increase in commercial real estate sales, which would increase MTA transaction tax revenues. Blowing all of such a volatile revenue source is one of the things that sank the MTA before. An increase in interest rates above zero would slam the breaks on the sales increase.

Kai B June 28, 2012 - 8:10 am

“The CEMUSA shelters are gone; the bus stations are now parking spots. The MTA isn’t going to restore those services; we’ll never get many similar routes back.”

I’m not sure I follow. The city’s DOT is responsible not only for removing these but also for installing them, in conjunction with their deal with CEMUSA. If bus lines like the B71 are restored you’ll see “no parking” signs go back up and shelters re-installed.

Marc Shepherd June 28, 2012 - 8:13 am

The cuts should be restored, but there is some needlessly inflammatory language in the post. In relation to the amount of service the MTA still has, the cuts were very minor, not a “deep gash.”

For instance, a reader not familiar with the details might not realize that the W was replaced by a Q extension to Astoria, and that the loss of the V actually produced a better service that sends the M up Sixth Avenue. If we’re being accurate, the subway cuts were service, not lines, and equivalent services replaced them.

Some, although concededly not all, of the bus service cuts were similar: an equivalent service still provides the same coverage. A few of them were very lightly used bus services that probably shouldn’t exist. That leaves a number of serious cuts that ought to be restored, but the gloom and doom is not as terrible as the post describes.

Indeed, there are probably some existing routes that are more in need of additional service (e.g., the L service improvements announced recently).

BrooklynBus June 28, 2012 - 10:30 am

Not true.

The bus cuts were indeed a deep gash. It was the largest bus cut in history. Many seniors depended on the routes that were cut and cannot walk to the alternative routes the MTA recommended. Some even have to now use Access a Ride costing the MTA more when they previously could have used a local bus. Nowhere has the MTA analyzed this or figured in the cost savings. Just listen to the people who were affected: (Watch the video regarding the B4 http://www.sheepsheadbites.com.....l-meeting/. Or read that many people were still talking about the cutbacks at this years Bus Forum, two years later. http://www.pcac.org/2012/04/30.....g-turnout/

Or here:


I agree the subway cuts were minor but they only represented $14 million as compared to the bus which was $54 million and Brooklyn was hit the hardest.

Al D June 28, 2012 - 11:00 am

And when the MTA splits a route (B61/62) and promotes it as service improvement, but all along knew they were cutting the B77 a short time later and lengthening the B61 and on a circuitous route to put it right back where it started from, one has to wonder what’s really going on??

Bolwerk June 29, 2012 - 7:09 am

The old skool B61 hardly seemed an improvement over just feeding into a relevant subway station. Though I suppose the handicapped would disagree.

BrooklynBus June 29, 2012 - 1:51 pm

Splitting the B61 and combining with the 77 at the same time is too comprensive of a change for them to visualize so they do it in parts. Or else they figured there would be opposition from 77 riders. By burying it in the massive service cuts riders would be concerned with those as well and wouldn’t bother protesting it’s takeover by the 61 which by itself was too short a route and didn’t make sense. The problem now is that there’s just not enough service with Smith 9th closed.

Andrew July 2, 2012 - 10:25 pm

The B61 split was announced in July 2009 – many months before the plans were developed to cut the B77 to save money.

Al D June 28, 2012 - 10:54 am

Not all subway services were replaced by equivalent services. The brown M (Bowery and points south) was never replaced.

Phantom June 30, 2012 - 10:46 am

I took the M from Fulton to 36th St for a couple of years. The trains were very lightly used.

There is service now from Bowery to Broad Street on the J and Z, and there is plenty of service Sunset Park / Bensonhurst on other lines

mike d. June 30, 2012 - 7:45 pm

From Court Street, Brooklyn south…. Waiting times still sucks.

Bolwerk June 30, 2012 - 2:12 pm

The only people who are screwed by the M redirect are those who lost their one-seat ride from Williamsburg to southern Brooklyn. In the case of those who can only get the M (Ridgewood and peak direction local riders between Myrtle and Marcy), this could mean transferring three times.

However, there can’t be that many of those riders left.

Phantom June 30, 2012 - 5:09 pm

Yes, so maybe two people lost out

This rerouting, sadly, did make sense

Andrew July 2, 2012 - 10:21 pm

It’s more than one or two. The 4th Ave. and West End lines had more frequent service, and the Nassau line is probably better situated than the Broadway line in lower Manhattan.

I’d say that a lot of people lost out, but what they lost was relatively little. After all, ridership on the M south of Broad was very small. The “new” M is benefiting far more people.

Matthias June 29, 2012 - 11:16 am

For riders between Canal and Whitehall, the W has not been replaced. Waits are loooong. Perhaps the N should run via the tunnel full-time.

mike d. June 30, 2012 - 12:45 am

Hell no.

Phantom July 2, 2012 - 6:16 pm

I ride the R every day. The waits are not bad.

Andrew July 2, 2012 - 9:58 pm

The waits are pretty typical. The R runs every 6 minutes during rush hours and every 10 minutes most of the rest of the day. That’s the same as the the B, D, N, and Q out of Brooklyn and the M out of Forest Hills (the other ends of those lines have less frequent service).

The N should most certainly not run via the tunnel during the day – those trains are quite crowded over the bridge, and diverting them to the tunnel would do those riders a disservice. There are alternate routes to the R between Canal and Whitehall – if you don’t like the R, you’re welcome to use something else.

Phantom July 4, 2012 - 9:53 pm

I actually like the R well enough

I find it dependable, and it has loads of useful connections, esp now with the easy coonection tomthe A/C/F at Jay St

But for some reason people like to say the service is worse than it really is on that line

Ed April 26, 2013 - 12:15 am

The W was a real cut – while the Q was extended at the northern end to replace the W between 57th Street and Astoria, there was a 25% reduction in the number of trains service the 7th Avenue/Bway subway – from NQRW to NRW – with the loss of one of two express services in order to maintain two local services.

The M vs. V definitely was an improvement.

Bill Reese June 28, 2012 - 8:46 am

With this extra bank, I say the G extension to Church Avenue should be made permanent. And maybe one day the G will have an 8-car train set, as opposed to the morning crunch into the 4-car sets.

stan June 28, 2012 - 4:36 pm

i know that there is always a discussion between longer trains or more frequent trains. i understand that longer trains is probably the cheaper option over time, but as a G rider i really wish i didn’t have those interminable waits nights and weekends

Kai B June 29, 2012 - 5:41 pm

Comparing the G to the F (randomly picked B-division train), I really don’t see why the G train gets the long wait-time reputation.

I just bothered to look at Saturday and they’re nearly identical. every 10 minutes until about 5pm, then every 11-12 minutes until after midnight, and then every 20 minutes until dawn.


Bolwerk June 30, 2012 - 2:02 pm

Probably because the F runs on a trunk line where most Manhattan and Queens service is supplemented by the M or even other services much of the week. And, even for the deeper parts of Brooklyn where the F is the only option, it at least is likely to take you smack to your destination, rather than to a transfer point.

I actually never saw the G as that awful for what it is. Heck, it’d be nice if the TA considered building services like that in lower-density parts of the city. But I get why people perceive it as they do.

Andrew July 2, 2012 - 10:06 pm

Because when G riders encounter delays, they (or at least some of them) attribute it to some sort of conspiracy against the G. But delays happen everywhere. (As a two-track line, it’s sometimes harder to get trains moving around those delays, but that’s how the line was built in the 30’s – it’s certainly not a modern day conspiracy.)

Eric June 29, 2012 - 2:50 pm

I wonder if they’ll reverse the Queens G cut and send it back out to Forest—hahahahahahaahahaha

Sorry, I couldn’t manage to even finish that sentence.

Ed April 26, 2013 - 12:17 am

It would make sense on weekends where the line has the capacity and only the R local.

Andrew July 2, 2012 - 10:02 pm

Be careful what you wish for. If the G were to go to 8 cars, rush hour headways would immediately jump to 10 minutes.

By “crunch” you may not realize that schedules are determined by loads, and the cars used on the G have a rush hour guideline load of 175. That may be more crowded than you’d personally prefer, but it’s the standard that NYCT applies systemwide during rush hours. If the G ran 8 cars, it would have less than 175 riders per car, on average, on a 10-minute headway.

Streetsblog New York City » Today’s Headlines June 28, 2012 - 8:58 am

[…] Lhota and MTA Board Mull Possible Service Restoration, Keep Quiet on Details (NYT, Kabak) […]

Bolwerk June 28, 2012 - 4:43 pm

At $20M a year, it might not hurt to save/invest the money for a few years as a down payment on more BRT or, dare to dream, some LRT.

Michael June 28, 2012 - 5:39 pm

Oh please B27, please B27, It went from 20 minutes to like 1 hour for me to get to work on the weekends when they cut that bus. My fingers are crossed.

ajedrez June 29, 2012 - 12:33 am

You mean the M27?

Someone December 17, 2012 - 10:05 pm

There’s no such line as B27 that ever existed.

JAzumah June 29, 2012 - 10:24 am

No, he means the X27. That isn’t coming back on the weekends without outside funding. That is how it came about in the first place.

Fredrick Wells July 9, 2012 - 9:44 pm

Restore the B71 but extend to Broadway Junction (since this takes the Eastern Parkway corridor). It will take St. Johns Avenue on Labor Day when the West Indian Carnival is taking place.

Report: MTA set to restore some lost services, keep G extension :: Second Ave. Sagas July 16, 2012 - 11:17 am

[…] weeks ago, during the June MTA Board Meeting, authority officials let slip the word that they were considering some service restorations. With a rosier financial outlook, the MTA estimated that it could bring back around $20 million of […]


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