Lawmaker warns MTA about cutting bus routes

 
Thursday, January 14, 2010
By JUDY L. RANDALL
ADVANCE STAFF WRITER

 

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- State Sen. Diane Savino warned the MTA yesterday that talk of "any reduction in service on Staten Island will not be tolerated and is DOA should it hit the Senate floor."

Ms. Savino called it "nonsensical" for the MTA to consider cutting express bus routes between Staten Island and Manhattan to help balance its budget.

The move also would save bus routes in Brooklyn and the Bronx that are near subway lines.

But Ms. Savino (D-North Shore/Brooklyn) pointed out that without express buses, the only mass transit alternative to get from the Island to Manhattan is the ferry.

"There is simply no mass transit alternative," said Ms. Savino. "Twenty-four express bus lines serve 33,000 Islanders daily. Express buses are a lifeline for tens of thousands of Staten Island commuters, especially in areas far-flung from the ferry terminal."

Ms. Savino said that while the MTA points out it is more expensive to maintain express bus routes than local routes, "It is nothing compared to the cost of building the infrastructure we deserve, like an interborough subway. (That) cost ... would be in the tens of billions" of dollars.

While the Island's MTA board representative, Allen Cappelli, has said the proposed cuts are rumors, he called them distressing. Still, he said commuters should "stand up and be counted" on the issue.

Rather than talking about cutting mass transit for Islanders, Ms. Savino said the MTA should be looking to "increase early-morning and late-night commuting options, not taking them away."

Judy L. Randall is a news reporter for the Advance. She may be reached at randall@siadvance.com.