MTA BUS ROUTES KEEP IT MALL IN THE FAMILY: POL
By PATRICK GALLAHUE
NY Post Transit Reporter
A city lawmaker yesterday blasted the MTA for rerouting two bus lines to serve a Queens shopping mall developed by the agency chairman's son.
Councilman John Liu said the MTA should formulate a new procedure for public input to determine bus routes, citing the controversial effort to extend lines to The Shops at Atlas Park.
"In the case of expanding bus service to Atlas Park, people have every reason to suspect favoritism and nepotism," Liu said after a City Council hearing.
The Shops at Atlas Park is owned by Damon Hemmerdinger, son of MTA Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger.
But the younger Hemmerdinger and MTA officials countered that they began working on one of the proposed routes years before the father was appointed board chairman in 2007.
"Discussions about rerouting the bus began about five years ago," Damon Hemmerdinger said.
Atlas Park was served by the Q29, but officials moved the Q54 from a lightly used terminus to the mall.
Damon Hemmerdinger requested the Q23 also be rerouted, but that was rejected. The board is proposing to reroute the Q45 to the mall.
Lois Tendler of NYC Transit said it was common to move bus routes to such destinations.
Liu noticed the Shops at Atlas Park now appears on bus maps. Cafiero responded by pointing to Spring Creek’s Gateway Center Mall, which is on the map and served by two buses.
But not all malls are created equal, said Staten Island Councilman Vincent Ignizio, who unsuccessfully lobbied to extend the S74 to the Bricktown mall. “It seems like a tale of two MTAs,” Ingnizio said.