NYCTRC Testimony – March 4, 2010 – Service Modifications


Testimony of the New York City Transit Riders Council to the
Board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority
on Proposed Service Reductions
The Fashion Institute of Technology, Manhattan

March 4, 2010

My name is Sharon King Hoge and I am a member of the New York City Transit Riders Council (NYCTRC).  The Council, created in 1981 officially represents the users of the New York City Transit system.  We are fifteen volunteer members appointed by the Governor upon the recommendation of the Mayor, the Public Advocate and the five Borough Presidents.

As representatives of all the transit passengers in the city, we are concerned about the potentially dire consequences of these proposed service modifications in all boroughs, especially in Manhattan.  Since nearly all of the city’s subway lines run through Manhattan, this borough is potentially negatively impacted by almost every one of the proposed subway cuts.  Shuttle service and the G train are the only exceptions, and several specific proposed changes are of particular concern.

We are worried that restructuring north-south and Lower East Side bus service would result in several negative consequences:  less flexibility in choosing a route; longer walks to the bus; longer travel times; and a need to transfer from bus to bus in order to reach a destination.

Important midtown service would be diminished by discontinuing the W train.  Less frequent weekend service on the “lettered” lines and the 1 train would lead to longer waits for overcrowded cars.

Some particular neighborhoods would see major deterioration in service.  Battery Park City and the World Financial Center would lose all service on the M9 and M22 buses, and as a result no single bus would travel between this area and the Lower East Side. This seemingly short trip would require a bus to bus transfer to complete.

The elimination of once or twice an hour weekend and overnight M8 service will leave no east/west alternative between Greenwich Village and the West Village.

Midtown bus riders would find the M27 eliminated entirely and the M50 eliminated on weekends, resulting in no weekend crosstown bus service for the 15 blocks between 42nd and 57th Streets.

Special needs riders will suffer by subway and bus cuts and changes to Access-A-Ride that will make paratransit less certain and secure.  Students will suffer from the loss of fare free and half fare student MetroCards.

In addition to these specific changes, this proposal would result in stranding passengers on a number of other bus routes by discontinuing overnight service, reducing some route operating hours and discontinuing some route segments.

Overcrowding is an additional concern.  Under the suggested loading guidelines car capacity definitions could be adjusted upward so that up to 25 percent more riders would be packed into each car before additional trains could be added to the schedule.

But our overriding concern is the collective impact of all reductions on the system as a whole.  When the city initially built its subways over a century ago, it did so with the understanding that our common interests were best advanced by creating a transportation system that ties together the diverse neighborhoods of the City.

The transit system is a network essential to the integration, growth and development of the city.  When passengers can’t get to work and school, when they can’t get to medical appointments and child care facilities, when they can’t travel to stores, restaurants, museums, they are severely inconvenienced, and the whole community suffers.  Beyond the harm done by individual service reduction, we are concerned that the system as a whole will become less efficient, less usable, and ultimately less able to support the ongoing vitality of our city.

New Yorkers depend on transit to get around the city 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  These proposed crippling service cuts are simply not adequate for a city that is open for business every day.  There are several alternatives that could reduce or eliminate these cuts, including congestion pricing and/or tolling East River and Harlem River bridges, increasing parking charges, a modest gasoline tax, and a one time use of federal stimulus and MTA pay as you go capital funds in the context of a stable long term financing solution.