8 The Courier sun • MARCH 17, 2016 for breaking news visit www.qns.com Southeast Queens residents will be the first to ride new high-tech MTA buses BY ANGELA MATUA firstname.lastname@example.org/@AngelaMatua Queens residents will be among the first to board new state-of-the art MTA buses equipped with Wi-Fi, USB charging ports and digital information screens. Governor Andrew Cuomo and MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast announced last week the addition of 2,042 buses to the MTA transportation fleet over the next five years. The new bus fleet comes with a $1.3 billion price tag, and will replace nearly 40 percent of the MTA’s current fleet. The first 75 buses will hit the streets next month on the Q10 route which serves JFK Airport, followed by the Q111, Q113 and Q114 routes serving Richmond Hill, South Jamaica, South Ozone Park, Springfield Gardens, Rosedale and Far Rockaway, according to a spokesperson for the MTA. The buses will have a “distinct new look and feel” and include 35 to 55 USB ports throughout each bus. The pilot program to install LCD digital installation screens on 200 buses will begin this year. The screens will display automated stop announcements, available transfers at each stop, news, weather, advertising and real-time communication from the bus command center. “We’re reimagining the MTA to improve services for all New Yorkers,” Cuomo said in a press release. The MTA announced the addition of new buses equipped with Wi-Fi and USB charging ports. “Today’s world demands connectivity, and we’re meeting that challenge with state-of-the-art buses and a major overhaul of the MTA’s fleet. This upgrade will create a stronger, more convenient and more connected mass transit system for years to come.” New York State is contributing $8.3 billion while the MTA Capital Program has budgeted $26.1 billion for the new buses. All of the new Photo courtesy of MTA buses will be equipped with Wi-Fi hot spots by 2017, while all express buses will be retrofitted with Wi-Fi and USB charging ports by 2020. In the next two years, another 70 buses will begin operating in Brooklyn, 209 in the Bronx and 18 in Manhattan. The remaining new buses will be assigned to routes throughout the five boroughs between 2018 and 2020. VETERANS GET ALL TYPES OF LOVE FROM SENATOR ADDABBO THIS MONTH By Anthony Giudice email@example.com @A_GiudiceReport Even though Valentine’s Day is far gone, state Senator Joseph Addabbo spread some love around for New York veterans earlier this month when he held a roundtable discussion on how to provide veterans with better job and education opportunities, and by bringing Valentine’s Day cards to a locale veterans center. As part of the Valentines for Vets program, Addabbo visited the St. Albans VA Medical Center to deliver handmade Valentine’s Day cards made by third-graders at P.S. 88 in Ridgewood. “Any time we get a chance to do something nice for our veterans, it’s important that we seize that opportunity,” Addabbo said. “Those who have served bravely to protect our country and our way of life deserve the utmost respect and appreciation, and we must pass that onto our children, as well. The Valentines for Vets initiative is dually successful in not only showing our veterans that we thank them for their courage and their sacrifices, but in teaching young students in the community that a small gesture can often go a long way toward showing someone you care.” As the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs, and Homeland Security, Addabbo recently held a veterans roundtable at the state Capitol to look at a wide range of programs and services to help New York’s returning military men and women with finding and maintaining meaningful employment upon returning home. According to Addabbo’s office, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last November that joblessness among the nation’s veterans reached an all-time low in October 2015. “The news has been improving when it comes to veteran employment rates,” Addabbo said. “But even though the unemployment rate for our country’s veterans dropped to 3.9 percent – a significant drop from the 6.9 percent two years earlier – we still have a lot to do to ensure that our veterans are able to find good jobs, pursue higher education, participate in our economy and support their families when their military service comes to an end. That 3.9 percent unemployment rate still means there are about 422,000 former members of the armed services looking for work.” Addabbo noted that a major challenge is to help make veterans aware of the many initiatives that are in place to help them gain access to jobs, higher education and other resources. “This roundtable offered an opportunity for a very valuable discussion and I was pleased to learn more about the many useful programs and services that are in place to help our veterans succeed economically and academically,” Addabbo said. “We have taken steps to help service-disabled veteran businesses compete for state contracts, provide incentives for New York businesses to hire vets, and to help both service members and employers better understand how skills gained in the military can translate into civilian jobs. We have programs in place at CUNY to help veterans succeed in earning new degrees, and I am proposing legislation myself that would enable SUNY and CUNY to grant credit to veterans for comparable courses taken and skills acquired during their time in the armed forces.” The Senate Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Homeland Security is planning to issue a report on the roundtable, with follow-up legislation, and will schedule additional roundtable discussions on other issues of concern to New York’s veterans and their families. Photo courtesy Senator Joseph Addabbo’s office State Senator Joseph Addabbo visited veterans with a stack of Valentine’s Day cards from local students, as well as helping them get better job and education opportunities.
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