Following months of debate, nine public hearings and over 100,000 written responses and petitions, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) board approved service cuts to the Long Island Rail Road and Long Island Bus as well as New York City and other suburban transit systems by a vote of 11-2 on Wednesday.
The approved the cuts will save the agency $93 million annually as a part of efforts to close an $800 million budget shortfall for 2010. Some of the cuts that were originally proposed, such as eliminating the Greenport line except for weekend summer service, were not implemented under the plan. But the MTA is not out of the woods yet.
“We’ve just taken a very difficult vote, but there are more difficult choices ahead to achieve necessary cost savings,” MTA Chairman and CEO Jay Walder said. “The reality is that closing the first $400 million is extremely painful, and closing the additional gap will be even harder.”
The MTA has been renegotiating contracts with suppliers, looking for projects that can be deferred or eliminated and hopes to consolidate functions and reduce overtime costs.
The approved cuts for the LIRR include: combining trains on the Babylon line; discontinuing weekend service between Ronkonkoma and Greenport except in the summer; shifting from half-hourly to hourly off-peak and weekend service on the Port Washington line; discontinuing one morning and one evening peak train between the Atlantic Terminal and Long Beach; discontinuing weekend service on the West Hempstead line; discontinuing late-night service to Brooklyn; reducing the number of train cars used on the Hempstead line; eliminating Belmont Park service Wednesday through Sunday except for during the Belmont Stakes; cancelling one weekend roundtrip train daily on the Oyster Bay line; cancelling one evening peak diesel train to Port Jefferson; cancelling one train from Hunterspoint to Montauk, except during on Fridays in the summer.
Some of the changes will be implemented May 17 while the rest will be implemented Sept. 13.
Long Island Bus had 11 lines discontinued, including the N3, N17, N28, N53, N65, N66, N67, N87, N93, N94 and N95. The N2 will discontinue its weekend peak period Jamaica extension, the N14 will have a mid-day service discontinuation while the N88 will have night service discontinued and will run less frequently. In addition, the N1, N23, N25 and N26 will have their routes streamlined. Those changes go into effect on June 27.