The MTA board voted today to make its proposed service cuts official.
Board members approved a plan that calls for getting rid of the "V" and "W" trains, and scaling back service on several other subway and bus lines and hundreds of layoffs -- including station agents (aka "token-booth clerks"). The "V" will be replaced by a modified "M" train.
Th cuts also contain 1,000 layoffs, including 450 station agents, which will happen in May.
There will also be reduced service on the LIRR Port Washington branch, and there will be no weekend service on the West Hempstead branch. There will be no late evening service to Brooklyn on the LIRR, and 11 Long Island bus routes are being eliminated.
The board didn't tackle the question of whether to eliminate free Metrocards for students. The issue will be decided in June.
The MTA insists the changes are needed to help close a budget gap of nearly $800 million dollars.
The service reductions will save $93 million a year.
MTA chairman Jay Walder says the cuts were tough — but they had to be done.
"This board has been forced to make tough decisions," Walder said. "We did listen, and we did make changes. Nevertheless, the cuts that remain are painful."
Twenty-three different speakers signed up to vent their frustrations before the vote.
Straphangers advocate Gene Russianoff said the mass transit picture is bleak. He said the board, despite service restorations and fewer cuts than initially forecast, is still eliminating lots of key subway and bus service.
"Either the glass is one-tenth full or 90 percent empty," said Russianoff.
Christine Williams, one of the station agents who could be laid off, said the elimination of the MTA's eyes and ears will "create chaos underground."
Another agent facing a layoff is Sharon Allen, who works at the Grand Street B/D station, took it more personally: "I'm scared," she said. "I have two kids. I'm a single parent. I don't know how I'm gonna pay my rent."
Carol Corcoran, who rides the X27 express bus from Bay Ridge to Manhattan -- a route that is soon to disappear on weekends, takes little comfort in the MTA's suggestion she can ride the R train instead.
"The station is disgusting," she said. "What you're going to see is a lot of people will just stay home and not go to Manhattan at all."
Retired art teacher Irene Berkson said Brooklynites need every bus they can get, saying, "Subways in Bay Ridge are like a dead end road."
MTA Board member Andrew Albert, who often sides with the riding public, said "this is a dark day for transit users in the Metropolitan Region."
Board member Norman Brown said, "passing this budget without using stimulus money is like taking orgasm out of sex."
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said the vote today "looked like an episode of 'That 70's Show.'"
"This tired replay of the disastrous policies of the 1970s, when we failed to invest in our transportation infrastructure and forced people to flee the city, is a simplistic approach at best and a return to decades old mistakes at worst.," said Stringer in a statement after the vote. "Until we come up with a long-term fiscal plan to generate revenue, we're going to continue to be victims of this ridiculous budget dance. The MTA needs to get its house in order."
A Timetable of Changes:
New York City Transit, MTA Bus, Long Island Bus
All changes, bus and rail, are planned to be effective June 27, 2010. Since that is a Sunday, weekday-only services (V, W, many of the express buses, etc) would run their last regular service on Friday, June 25 and the first weekday patterns on Monday June 28.
One exception: Staten Island Ball Park (SIR) special will officially be discontinued June 18 (the first Staten Island Yankees home game).
Long Island Rail Road
The LIRR service changes earmarked for May 2010 would be implemented with the May 17, timetable change. The LIRR Service changes earmarked for September 2010 would be implemented with the September 13 timetable change.
Service changes will be implemented on June 21, 2010, to correspond to with their next timetable change.
Service changes will be phased in over the next several months.
Effective April 12, 2010, Able-Ride will no longer provide paratransit service to areas of Nassau County that are beyond the service area defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Bridges & Tunnels
Modification of the Cross Bay Bridge Resident Rebate Program will go into effect at a yet to be determined date in July.
A full list of the service changes and an implementation schedule are available at www.mta.info.