Subways and Buses
A strong transportation network is more equitable, increases mobility, cuts congestion and sharply reduces pollution—all while saving money.
Safe and strong public transportation enables our seniors to maintain their autonomy and age in place. It allows our children to take their first steps toward independence. Even before I became chair of the Fix Northern Boulevard campaign, each morning I witnessed how our local middle school students were left stranded on Northern Boulevard and 90th Street as bus after bus, filled to capacity, passed them by.
We need improved bus service. On December 30th 2019, I was excited to read the MTA’s 400 page Queens Bus Redesign. I was hoping for new dedicated bus lanes, camera enforced violations, bus transit signal priority and enhanced service. Then I saw the proposed map. The “redesign” eliminates crucial service that is a lifeline to so many in our community: It cuts the Q49, which is a main connecter between East Elmhurst, upper Jackson Heights and the hub; it truncates the Q32 to Manhattan, it re-routes the Q33 from 74th Street; and it even takes away the bus to the beach, the Q53, which is the only SBS service in our neighborhood and provides a quick one-seat ride to a dozen neighborhoods between here and Rockaway Park.
These cuts will strand our seniors, our mobility impaired, and our neighbors who are traveling with small children in strollers or carrying packages and other supplies. Buses are 100% accessible yet under this “redesign” buses are now being deployed only to bring us to inaccessible local stations. Even many of our neighbors who live within walking distance of a local station prefer taking the bus to the main 74th Street, Roosevelt Ave. hub where there are many more options: elevators, escalators, express trains and other connecting buses.
As these cuts have been announced our leadership out of Albany has been mostly silent. Where are they now when we need protection from these punitive cuts? Why did the MTA think that they could just eliminate the transportation network in our neighborhood? Why did our local elected officials let this happen? We do not have time to wait for answers. So, with a group of transportation advocates, we hit the bus stops. We passed out over 15,000 flyers. We rode the buses and spoke to the people. We brought hundreds of riders, our neighbors, to each community meeting. And we won’t stop until the MTA reverses these senseless and punitive cuts to our bus service.
The Q29, Q32, Q33, Q47, Q49, Q66 and Q72 play an important role in the independence of our elderly neighbors, our mobility impaired, and our students. Buses are 100% accessible and yes they need improvements, but they are still much more accessible and more reliable than our un-reliable, over-crowded subways. The Q49 knits our community together bringing East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights to the 74th Street Hub. The Q53 provides us fast service to a dozen neighborhoods including the beach. The Q66 brings us to Astoria and Long Island City and Corona and Flushing. The Q72 brings us to the airport and to Rego Park. All of our buses provide a valuable service and can use improvements. However this plan hurts our robust bus service in order to bring new bus service to other areas of Queens.
When I go to Albany I will make sure devastating cuts are called out BEFORE they are implemented, or even proposed.
There are a few no-brainer adjustments along our routes that would significantly speed up the service. Some require real leadership, some require partnering with the NYC Department of Transportation and others are simple adjustments:
- Dedicated, camera enforced bus lanes.
- Rid bus lanes of illegally parked cars, taxis and delivery vans don’t block our buses entering and leaving our bus terminal and don’t impede traffic throughout our neighborhood.
- Address traffic problems like drop-off and pick-up for P.S.148 to prevent bus bunching at the beginning of the route.
- 74th Street could have a dedicated busway for one block between the terminal and 37th Avenue. That would significantly speed up every bus using that route.
- The MTA could work with DOT to expand the transit signal priority that prioritizes our buses.
These simple, low cost changes would dramatically improve our service.