Thursday, December 31, 2009

They're not in Woodhaven's corner

This breaks my heart. I am totally serious. I really like Woodhaven: it's a cute little neighborhood tucked away under the el, with a great shoe store and a couple nice parks nearby. It's very sad to see them treated this way.

The proposed MTA service cuts will deprive Woodhaven of Z skip-stop train service to Manhattan, and the Q56 bus from Jamaica to East New York. This was on the front page of last week's Queens Chronicle.

Concerned residents called a press conference and invited their alleged representatives to speak out on their behalf. Assemblymember Miller and Councilmembers Ulrich and Crowley are too new to know where they really stand, but Crowley's cousin did speak in favor of congestion pricing back in 2007. Of course they did attack the MTA instead of their colleagues in the State Legislature who cut its funding.

State Senator Joe Addabbo, who this summer sat on his hands as his colleagues killed bridge tolls to fund the MTA, did not attend the meeting, but his office issued a lame press release putting all the blame on the authority.

The biggest hypocrite has to be Assemblyman Rory Lancman of Fresh Meadows, whose district stretches down to pick up the few white votes left in Woodhaven. You may remember Lancman as the Assembly's point buffoon during the congestion pricing debates. Yes, he's the one who released one of many unworkable "alternative plans" to congestion pricing, notably involving $500 million to improve bus service.

Okay, Rory, where's that $500 million? The MTA could really use it now. What's that? You cut the budget by $53 million instead? Of course, Lancman seems to have completely forgotten that proposal, falling back on his tried-and-true blame game: "The MTA needs to start at the top. It needs to reform itself. It needs to restructure itself."

The most depressing thing is that the Woodhaven community leaders seem to have fallen for that trick. Back in March, the Chronicle reported on the efforts of Maria Thomson, the executive director of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation and the Woodhaven BID, to prevent cuts to the Q56 (emphasis mine):
In her testimony to the MTA board during its public hearings, Thomson asked the members, "What are you thinking? How can you discontinue a bus that has no replacement?"

Thomson has reached out to a number of elected officials to make them aware of the situation. "They are lobbying for us," she said and working on the community’s behalf to get the line reinstated in the budget.

Your faith is touching, Ms. Thomson, but you do know that legislators don't have to lobby anyone but their colleagues and maybe the Governor to get a budget increase? How many times will you reach out to the same elected officials after you've seen them cut funding when they promised to increase it? Please don't tell me that you're planning to support Addabbo and Lancman's re-elections campaigns next year after all this?

Sadly, I'm guessing that she will. The Project Woodhaven blogger - clearly an ally of hers in this fight - ends the story with this line: "Well, the ball is rolling -- and we've got the right people in our corner." As long as they keep thinking that, nothing's going to change.


Alon Levy said...

The Z doesn't really improve service, unless you live at an express stop. It should've been cut years ago.

Cap'n Transit said...

In theory, the Z makes the J and M trains run faster and less crowded. I don't know how well it works in practice.

I assume that the MTA plans to not just combine the J and Z, but reduce the overall frequency of trains on that line. So people who take those trains would have to wait just as long for a train, but it would be more crowded and take more time to get them downtown. And people who live at the express stops would also see a decrease in service frequency.

Alon Levy said...

The Z makes the J run 5 minutes faster from Jamaica to Manhattan than it would without skip-stop, which doesn't justify the service complexity.

If I remember correctly, the MTA plan is to eliminate the Z and just run the J local easy of Myrtle, at the same frequencies as now.

Alon Levy said...

Okay, I just checked, and yes, service frequency will increase. The MTA's explanation of the consequences of the change is that some riders will have longer trips while others will have shorter waits; there's nothing there about longer waits at the express stations, and there's an explicit mention of "partially offsetting increases in J service."

Cap'n Transit said...

Thanks for that information, Alon. So it's not as bad as it would be if they were just eliminating all Z runs. And maybe the 1-5 minute savings is not justified by the expense of skip-stop service.

But that 1-5 minute time savings allows the MTA to run more trains, which reduces crowding. So J train riders will see more crowding, especially as they get closer to Manhattan.

The elimination of the Q56 would be a bad thing for the disabled and parents of infants, who would have difficulty climbing stairs to the J.

Worse is the elimination of rush-hour M service in southern Brooklyn. I used to take the M or R to work from Park Slope, and they were not all that frequent. There is no plan to compensate with increased R train frequency. I'm surprised that people in Sunset Park and Park Slope aren't complaining.

Alon Levy said...

Southern Brooklyn has a big mismatch between infrastructure and ridership anyway...

As far as I understand Park Slope, it considers the F to be its primary train line - or maybe the D/N/R - but not the one hour a day M. It's like how the people I knew from Williamsburg would regard the L as their line and the J/M/Z as a nice-to-have addition, or how the Riders Diaries poster from Jamaica regards the E and F as his lines and the J/Z and the V as afterthoughts.