No More Cuts

December 17, 2009
Jay Walder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Metropolitan Transportation Authority
347 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10017-3739

Dear Chairman Walder:

New York City depends on the MTA. Queens depends on the MTA. It is how we get to work, buy our groceries, pick up prescription medicines and go to school. Our community needs our public transportation system to function efficiently and cost-effectively, and we simply will not stand for debilitating cuts to vital subway and bus routes. For our community, the proposed cuts to the Access-A-Ride service, Q56 Bus, Z train and Student Discount will amount to a failure of our public transportation system, a failure of the MTA.

If the MTA needs to cut costs, please start cutting at the top. It is infuriating that the position of MTA Chairperson received a pay raise this year, while hardworking fathers and mothers pay ever-increasing fares for ever-limited service. Now, when the MTA cuts threaten the valued Access-A-Ride service and disabled citizens are stressed with transferring from shuttle to the nearest accessible stop, you burden the most vulnerable members of our society. How can they be expected to wait for a bus, when many bus stops lack shelters and seating? The alterations to the Access-A-Ride service are insulting to these community members and we find them unacceptable.

The elimination of the Q56 bus, the only bus that services Jamaica Avenue, would displace thousands of riders. Many of these riders will be forced into the subway system, which faces cuts itself, and many riders will be stranded. If you eliminate the Q56, you must make accommodations for those who cannot climb the stairs to the above ground J/Z line. Is the MTA prepared to install elevators at every train station in order to provide for senior and disabled citizens? We refuse to allow you to exclude a large segment of our population from access to public transportation.

The elimination of the Z train also will contribute to the clogging of the subway system. MTA riders can look forward to increased wait times and packed subway cars. The overloaded train will delay riders, and as a result, New Yorkers will find ways to avoid the J train. Consequently, foot traffic along Jamaica Avenue will decrease, as will the patronage of local businesses. We urge you fully consider the ramifications of this cut before you put hardship on our neighborhoods.

Our families again will face financial burden and tough choices when the MTA phases out the Student Fare, a necessity to families with multiple children. When Queens residents are struggling to put food on the table or getting a second job to pay the heating bill, it should never be the case that they must budget an additional $810 per child per year to pay for transportation to school. School districts already struggle to maintain teachers and staff, and are not prepared to expand yellow bus service to offset the financial hardship that accompanies eliminating student discounts. These insensitive cuts are not the right way to close the budget gap.

The MTA offers valuable services to the people of Queens, and we urge you to maintain these services and avoid extreme and detrimental cuts at all costs. We rely on the MTA to affordably and efficiently get us from point A to point B, and we must think of new ways to stem the MTA’s monetary bleed. The community and its elective representatives are here; we’ve been here for years. Listen to us. Involve us. Stop deciding the future of our city behind closed doors. We demand our seat at the table.