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Some costly MTA bus routes spared cuts

Bus stop on 57 St by 3rd Ave  (Photo by Andrew Hinderaker)

Some bus express routes are being spared from the “doomsday” cuts even though they are more expensive to run and have fewer riders than lines being slashed.

Officials plan to axe only five of the 64 lines run by the MTA Bus Company--which operates the private bus lines serving the boroughs—impacting 300 riders.

NYC Transit, on the other hand, is poised to eliminate 14 of its 244 routes and cut back on 100 others, impacting 200,000 riders.

“It probably isn’t fair, but it’s the reality of the funding,” said William Henderson, of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA.

MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said the cuts were spread evenly, as each division was asked to slash 4.6 percent in spending. But with a smaller deficit and budget, MTA Bus didn’t have to make as many cuts as NYC Transit, which runs most bus routes.

“There are quite a few empty seats,” said Michelle Lugay, 30, who rides the QM17, a bus company line to Far Rockaway. The line costs $23 a person to run per day.

The MTA formed the MTA Bus Co. in 2005 after the city took over the private bus lines. While MTA runs the buses, the city pays for any costs not covered by the fares, shelling out $328 million last year, according to agency documents.

On a recent rush hour evening, two bus company lines had fewer than a dozen riders on board at one of their last Manhattan stops. Still, riders said they would be stranded without them. Still, riders said they would be stranded without them.

As a result, the MTA will keep operating routes like the QM12 to Forest Hills, which costs $24 a day to run per rider and averages just 14 passengers a trip.

“People need this bus. I’d kill me if it was discontinued,” said Elisa Dunne, 43, a Queens express bus rider.

A mayoral spokesman, meanwhile, said they would support merging MTA Bus Company with NYC Transit’s bus operations to “reduce costs and improve operations.” Donovan said the MTA is studying how to streamline the agencies but has no immediate plans to combine them.

Julia Borovskaya contributed to this story.

Busiest and slowest buses that won¹t be cut, with cost to run per passenger:
MTA Bus Company
Busiest: Q111, 26,215 riders, $3.45
Least busy: QM18, 273 riders, $30.24

NYC Transit
Busiest: B46, 67,080 riders, $2.18
Least busy: X64, 450 riders, $22.20

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