With a budget surplus giving the MTA $40 million in new revenue, a transit advocacy group, and two prominent Staten Islanders, are calling for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the agency to restore cuts made three years ago.
Those cuts included the elimination of X6 express bus, the consolidation of X13 and X14 service, the elimination of the S67, and service reductions on the S54, S57, S66 and S76 lines. Service on some other lines was curtailed or absorbed by other routes, typically to riders' inconvenience.
A cut to the S76 was restored earlier this year, with the announcement of a string of service enhancements. But most of the 2010 cuts have remained in place.
"Our riders expect that the MTA seize this opportunity and utilize this money for restoration of some of the cuts of 2010, expand service where overcrowding exists as our ridership grows, and serve new markets as the face of our city and region continues to change," said Allen P. Cappelli of Livingston, an attorney and Staten Island's member of the MTA board. He spoke at a Manhattan rally Sunday organized by the advocacy group Riders Alliance.
Cappelli acknowledged Cuomo's support of the agency, which permitted the restoration of some service cuts earlier in 2013, but he said more needs to be done to serve riders.
Councilwoman Debi Rose said it's only "common sense" that the funds be used for service restorations and enhancements. The North Shore Democrat said that constituents in her district are increasingly dependent on "ever-eroding bus services."
The executive director of the Riders Alliance cited increasing ridership as just one of the reasons why more funding is needed by the MTA. "Now that there is a little more in the budget than expected, the first priority should be restoring and expanding service for millions of people who rely on MTA buses and trains," said the leader, John Raskin.
According to the Riders Alliance, the state budget that passed last month included a funding increase that "exceeded the MTA's budget assumption by $40 million, largely because transit-dedicated taxes brought in more money than expected due to a recovering economy."