The Misery Starts as NY Transit Cuts Go Into Effect

The MTA’s service cuts went into effect over the weekend, stranding and inconveniencing many. Newsday captured the reactions of Long Island Bus riders, who saw 11 of their bus routes canceled and many others curtailed:

“There’s no more 28?” Eva Ramirez, of Inwood, said after waiting several minutes for the N28 bus near the Roslyn Long Island Rail Road station. The bus would typically shuttle workers from the train to a nearby industrial park, where Ramirez works cleaning offices.

Having been out of work last week with an injury, Ramirez said she had no idea that the bus she has taken for four years would be gone as of Monday. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m really surprised.”

For now, Ramirez and other commuters took advantage of a $5 shuttle van set up by Delux Limousine Service. Company spokesman Bob Howard said the temporary service is a money loser but is “the right thing to do.”

In New York City, straphangers were faced with varying degrees of chaos.  AMNY reported on riders who “stared with disbelief at bus stop signs detailing the cuts,” while the New York Times said riders were “angry, confused and frustrated,” but “mostly shared a grin-and-bear-it attitude.”  Today, Straphangers Campaign volunteers surveyed riders at former bus stops in the five boroughs and found that many stops still had old maps and timetables, although MTA employees were distributing brochures at subway stations and bus drivers were generally helpful. Several of the riders they spoke with were unaware of the cuts and estimated that they faced commutes between 10-20 minutes longer.

In an editorial, the NY Daily News pointed out that state politicians voted to take $143 million in revenue that was supposed to pay for bus and train service and use it for the state budget; the service cuts which took effect this weekend saved only $93 million.  And Streetsblog recaps a long history of political decisions — including the heavy debt incurred in prior decades because politicians were unwilling to fund transit projects, and the failure to pass stable revenue sources like congestion pricing — that contributed to today’s transit crisis.

Photo: Andrea Bernstein/WNYC.

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