In Queens, Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr. held a rally before the Ditmars Boulevard N/W train station in Astoria. The MTA voted last month to eliminate the W and Z trains altogether, and shorten the G train route. The transit authority also approved cuts to several major bus routes serving residents across Brooklyn, Queens, and the rest of the city.
“We need more service, we need better service,” said Vallone, standing before a crowd of protesters waving signs in the cold. “We don't need cuts.”
Costa Constantinidis, a Democratic district leader in Queens, said the cuts - which include the elimination of free student MetroCards and reduced Access-A-Ride service - would hurt the city's most vulnerable citizens, such as children, the elderly, and the disabled.
“Every six months its seems the MTA wants to keep us hostage,” said Constantinidis. “That's not right.”
Joe Licul, an Astoria resident who used a free student MetroCard as a high school student, said students today deserve the same right. Licul said losing the W and G trains would hurt, too.
“I don't want to see the [trains] get cut,” he said.
Vallone said despite protests from elected officials and residents, the cuts will likely go through. To stop them, the state and MTA would have to plug a multi-billion dollar budget deficit.
“I'm not all that hopeful that the MTA and state will do the right thing,” Vallone said, “but that doesn't mean we're not going down without a fight.”