A few 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 cut subway and bus services, good news indeed for New Yorkers used to cuts. Now, with the July meeting on tap, a new report says that the MTA will unveil those service restorations next week, and, as an added bonus, Transit will commit to making the G train extension through Brooklyn permanent.
Pete Donohue has the story:
Transit officials are poised to allocate tens of millions of dollars for additional bus, subway and commuter train service — and plan to make permanent a popular expansion of the G train in Brooklyn, sources said.Metropolitan Transportation Authority executives have been drafting and revising lists of rider-friendly initiatives that include restoring some — but certainly not all — of the service that was whacked in 2010 to close a canyon-like budget deficit, the sources said.
Now, the authority’s finances have improved to the point that transit executives are confident they can ramp up service in parts of the system where planners and managers believe it is most needed and practical. A majority of the restorations will be in Brooklyn and the Bronx, which makes sense because those boroughs were hit the hardest by the bus-heavy budget cuts two years ago, the sources said.
MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota and top transit executives will unveil the service upgrades as they present revised financial plans to the MTA board next week. Some of the dropped routes will be brought back to life — though one source said those will be few in number. In most cases, the MTA will run buses more frequently on certain routes to better meet increased demand, or extend an existing route into a neighborhood where buses don’t currently stop, that source said.
Donohue also reports that the G train extension to Church Ave. will be made permanent, good news indeed for residents and businesses in Park Slope, Windsor Terrace and Kensington who have long been arguing for such announcement. (Considering the ridership numbers, I never thought the extension was in doubt, but political support for transit improvements should be applauded.)
It’s unclear right now how much money will be allocated toward the service restorations. Donohue says the MTA could have as much as $90 million on tap come the end of the year. It’s also unclear which services will be restored and when. Still, this is a welcome development indeed.
Yet, there’s something missing. The MTA can restore services because the economy has improved, but that’s a variable funding source. The authority still needs a reliable stream of money to avoid future service cuts. As Transportation Alternatives noted, this move should be a wake-up call. “These service restorations are good news, but a public utility as vital as transit shouldn’t be subject to the boom and bust of the economy” Paul Steely White, TA’s Executive Director, said. “Today’s news highlights the need for dedicated, sustainable investment in public transit from the state government. Leaving transit funding to the whims of the economy is shortsighted and misguided. When the economy is struggling, reliable and affordable buses and subways are even more important to all New Yorkers.”