BY Lisa L. Colangelo
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Wednesday, March 11th 2009, 1:04 AM
Bus ridership in Queens is booming at a time when transit officials are looking to cut lines, according to a new report.
The number of riders on Queens buses - particularly on such lines as the busy Q46 - has jumped 28.4% over the last decade. And that's part of a larger trend that shows New Yorkers who live outside of Manhattan are using city buses and subways more than ever, according to the Center for an Urban Future.
"The boroughs have been driving the city's population growth and the use of the transit system," said Jonathan Bowles, director of the think tank.
"This is a time where we should be building on that growth by expanding and improving service. Instead, they are about to make drastic service cuts."
Under the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's doomsday budget plan, the Q84 bus would be eliminated, along with weekday service on the Q26, Q56, Q74, and Q75.
Weekend service would be slashed on the Q14, Q31, Q76 and Q79 and nighttime service on Q30.
The W and Z trains would be eliminated and service reduced on the M, J and G lines.
State legislators, in the middle of budget negotiations, are looking for ways to stave off massive transit cuts. One option that would also anger many Queens residents includes placing tolls on the East River bridges, including the Queensboro Bridge.
The center examined data from the MTA showing that 20 of 22 subway stations with the largest percentage increase in ridership were outside of Manhattan.
Several of the busiest stations were in Queens, including 21st St.-Queensbridge on the F line, where average weekday ridership jumped from 2,088 in 1998 to 7,374 in 2008.
In addition, people using the 45th Road-Court House Square station on the 7 line rose from 3,410 in 1998 to 9,848 in 2008.
The large increase in bus ridership can also be attributed to the lack of subways in large swaths of Queens, Bowles said.
"Queens has a number of communities that still have poor transit access," he said. "People are very dependent on buses to get to the subways."
City Councilman John Liu, chairman of the Council's Transportation Committee, said while the report points out the obvious, it could not have come at a better time.
"This demonstrates that bus lines are absolutely needed, and for the MTA to propose a wholesale elimination of vital bus lines is like an ostrich sticking its head in the sand," he said.
"People have been complaining about this for a long time."
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