Politicians, straphangers rally to protest G train service cuts
BY Michael E. Miller
Wednesday, February 18th 2009
The G train as we know it is dead - or close to it.
Politicians and transit rider advocates rallied Tuesday in the Court Square subway stop at Hunters Point, Queens, to protest proposed cuts in G train service that could inconvenience thousands of commuters.
With the dirge of bagpipe music in the background and a funeral wreath in view, they mourned the possible demise of the subway line and called on Gov. Paterson to find new funds to "raise it from the dead."
"The G train has for decades been neglected in terms of resources provided," said Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn), a Bible in hand for the mock funeral ceremony.
"If G train service is cut off, thousands of Brooklyn and Queens riders will be left out in the cold," he said. "They deserve better treatment."
Faced with a $1.2 billion operating deficit for 2009, the Metropolitan Transit Authority has proposed slashing Queens-bound service on the G at Court Square to save money.
But despite the doom and gloom, there were signs of life to be found.
"Let's take today as an opportunity to raise the dead," said Assemblyman Joseph Lentol (D-Brooklyn), adding that the budget crisis has put subway concerns on the back burner. "We will get a plan down that saves the subway system, but we have to save the G."
The event was organized by the Straphangers Campaign, a transit riders advocacy group. The MTA's proposed cuts would lop off 13 stops in Queens from the G line, which now ends in Forest Hills. The cuts would affect other subway and bus lines with crowding.
A Transit Authority study found that the cuts to the G line would result in extra walking, longer waits and additional transfers for thousands of passengers in Brooklyn and Queens each day.
Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for the MTA, said the agency was hoping to avoid the cuts and prefers that Albany find other ways to cut the budget.
Daily riders on the G line as well as politicians also expressed their outrage at the plan.
Jose Cortez, 35, a cook on his way to work in Manhattan, said, "It's difficult now to get where I got to go. So just imagine if they cut the service."