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G train extension may become permanent

Posted by Allan on Mon Jul 16 16:45:25 2012

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/mta-heading-good-news-article-1.1115053#ixzz20o7F6nGn

"MTA heading your way with good news!
Expect restored service on various lines ... and a permanent G train expansion

Pete Donohue
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Published: Monday, July 16, 2012, 3:00 AM

It’s budget time at the MTA and there’s actually good news: 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.

The list wasn’t finalized as of Friday, but one of the winners will likely be Red Hook, the underserved neighborhood where the subway isn’t an option and where community activists and Transport Workers Union Local 100 have been active in organizing for improvements.

Red Hook was stripped of two bus routes — the B77 and the B75 — and the B61 that survived either runs too infrequently or is too crowded to board. “I walk 20 blocks every day to get to the subway, rather than wait a half-hour to get on a bus,” Robert Berrios, 44, a clerk from Red Hook, complained to the MTA board last month.

Another top candidate for a service boost is Bay Ridge, where part of the B64 was erased from the map, another source said.

As to the G line, the MTA added five stops in Brooklyn, the last being Church Ave., in 2009. It was done because of major construction projects, including work that closed off spare track on the F line that was used to reverse G trains for the return trip. The next point on the shared line that was suitable for reversing trains was at Church Ave., so other stops were added in between. The construction that necessitated the change is expected to end late this year or next year, but the plan is for the added stops to remain, the sources said.

Business owners along the five-stop stretch, together with transit advocates and area politicians — including Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, state Sen. Daniel Squadron and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio — have been lobbying the MTA to make the extension permanent. “It’s just made the line much more convenient,” Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign said. “It was like a useless appendage. Now, it connects Park Slope, Windsor Terrace and Kensington.”

Sources either didn’t know or wouldn’t reveal how much money the MTA will allocate for service improvements. MTA board members Allen Cappelli and Mitch Pally have been urging the authority to create a $20- million service enhancement fund to be split among the MTA agencies, which also include the Long Island Rail Road and the Metro-North Railroad.

The latest monthly report on MTA finances to be posted online shows it has $90 million more on hand than it projected back in February. The MTA is in better shape largely because the economy is in better shape: Employment in the city has been steadily rising and that has translated into more riders. And to its credit, the MTA has also kept expenses below budget.

The rarity of it makes it worth repeating: It’s budget time and there’s actually some good news."




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