Coalition of transit riders demands service restorations

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Coalition of transit riders demands service restorations

Story and photos by Sandra E. García

TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen said, “We will never stop organizing with riders in working class communities until all service cuts are reversed.”

TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen said, “We will never stop organizing with riders in working class communities until all service cuts are reversed.”

On Tues., July 24th, Transit Workers’ Union Local 100, together with transit riders, elected officials and community advocates, gathered on City Hall’s steps to announce the launch of the “Bring Back Our Buses and Subways” campaign and called on the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) to restore all transit services cut in 2010.

Since 2010, the MTA has eliminated 36 bus routes, 570 bus stops, over 100 station booths, two subway lines and two contracts with Access-A-Ride operators.

Thousands of signatures have been collected since then, with petitioners arguing that the services cut have affected commuters most in need, including students, the elderly and the disabled.

The MTA pledged to use $29 million to restore some services cut earlier this month, but TWU Local 100 is calling on the agency to do more.

“The fact remains that the MTA reversed only a third of the services cut in 2010,” said John Samuelsen, TWU Local 100’s President, on Tuesday. “We will never stop organizing with riders in working class communities until all service cuts are reversed.”

Elected officials present also pressed the MTA for restorations.

“While the recent funding restorations are a step in the right direction, much more must be done,” said Congresswoman Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez. “Working families rely on public transportation and it is time to fully reverse the 2010 cuts that have so harmed our communities.”

“As a representative of Northern Manhattan,” said Senator Adriano Espaillat, “I’m particularly concerned about cuts to buses and subways for Washington Heights, Inwood, and the surrounding communities. I’m pleased to join the TWU’s campaign for the restoration of services, including our push to bring back token booths at all stations.”

“We have a long way to go to ensure that affordable mass transit is safe in New York City, which includes taking action at a state level to adequately fund public transportation,” added State Senator Gustavo Rivera.

State Senator Adriano Espaillat called on the MTA to restore all transit services cut in 2010 as part of the “Bring Back Our Buses and Subways” campaign. Gustavo Rivera “We have a long way to go to ensure that affordable mass transit is safe in New York City,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera.

State Senator Adriano Espaillat called on the MTA to restore all transit services cut in 2010 as part of the “Bring Back Our Buses and Subways” campaign.Gustavo Rivera“We have a long way to go to ensure that affordable mass transit is safe in New York City,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera.

Transit community advocates in the Bronx and Northern Manhattan lent their support to the call for greater restorations, claiming that their communities were not adequately served.

“The restored service does not come to Harlem or Washington Heights.  The Bx13 makes a couple of stops by the George Washington Bridge, before going through the Bronx,” said Jacob Carlson of WEACT for Environmental Justice. “Otherwise, Harlem and Washington Heights are completely left out of the service restorations. Of the service not restored, the M3, M5, M10, M15, M18, and M104 all serve Northern Manhattan.  The M18, which was cut entirely, was particularly important for seniors, people with disabilities, and parents with strollers living near Convent Avenue, who could not walk to other bus lines, or had difficulty with the stairs, since most of our subway stations do not have elevators. Also, without the restoration of station booths, our stations remain a security risk for many who travel home after the night shift.”

“Co-op City is the largest community in the northern region of New York City, and the bus service cuts have affected two-thirds of the community,” Bernard Cylich of Co-Op City Coalition against MTA Cuts of the Bronx. “The MTA should bring back the Bx26 and Bx28 bus services that had formerly served hospitals, schools, and colleges in our community. We demand improved transportation for our residents, businesses, and visitors.”

For more information on the “Bring Back Our Buses and Subways” campaign, please visit www.twulocal100.org.