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MTA To Improve Bus Service In All Five Boroughs, Keep G Train Extension

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TWC News: MTA To Improve Bus Service In All Five Boroughs, Keep G Train Extension
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Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joe Lhota announced Thursday nearly $30 million in planned mass transit improvements through 2013, including improved and expanded bus lines in all five boroughs and a permanent extension of the G subway line. NY1's Tina Redwine filed the following report.

The MTA delivered good news Thursday as Chairman Joseph Lhota announced plans to add $29 million in bus, subway and commuter rail improvements, two years after major cutbacks. He says it's doable because it's a small percent of the MTA's budget and business has improved.

"We're responding to significant increases in ridership, particularly during weekends, evenings and the weekday off-peak hours," Lhota said. "The MTA has become more and more a way of life in the New York region."

The city's biggest beneficiaries are bus riders. The MTA is adding five new routes in and through neighborhoods that have been growing. It's also extending or restoring parts of 13 existing routes, including the B64 bus through Red Hook, Brooklyn. An entire line that was eliminated two years ago (the B39 connecting Williamsburg, Brooklyn with Manhattan's Lower East Side) will also be restored. And extra service will be added at night and on weekends to a number of routes. In all, some 30 local and express bus routes will see improvements.

There was also good news for riders of the G train. The line is being permanently extended five stops to Church Avenue.

Chairman Lhota says the cost is sustainable.

"We are committed to making this organization as lean as possible," he said. "At the same time, though, we're committed to making the MTA as responsive to our customers as possible."

A few of the improvements will take effect in October. But it will be January or later for most of them.

The MTA also said it's financially healthy enough that a 7-and-a-half percent fare hike planned for January can be postponed until March. That will allow some of the improvements to take effect first, perhaps making the increase easier to swallow.

The chairman says a fare hike would have to go into effect even if these service improvements were not made. On Wednesday, the board will vote on next year's budget. Then, hearings will need to start on the new service as well as the planned fare hike.

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