By Kathianne Boniello
Myra Burke, president of the Queens Surface Corp., said she would try to seek approval for a change in her company's bus routes from the city Department of Transportation, the agency that regulates the private business.
Burke made her statement at a meeting Tuesday with some co-op residents, Queens Surface, and various city agencies arranged by community activist and city council candidate Joyce Shepard.
While Queens Surface representatives seemed amicable about working with the community to solve the problem, any permanent solution was crippled by the absence of a representative from the Metropolitan Transit Authority. Residents said the problem is mostly created by MTA buses.
Rita Krich, 74, had been complaining about the noise and fumes from the buses near her co-op for years. The building is on the corner of Bell Boulevard and 23rd Avenue and separated from the Bay Terrace Shopping Center by an alleyway owned by Cord Meyer Development, which allows trucks to use it as a delivery route. Cord Meyer owns the shopping center.
The small, narrow alley runs behind the mall and right next to Krich's ground floor apartment. Krich said the buses use the alley to make a circle from the stop on 212th Street, which is behind her building, to then pickup passengers on Bell Boulevard in front of her home.
“This loop and this alley are being used as a depot and a turnaround for these bus companies,” she told the Times-Ledger in June. She said at times she has counted more than 100 buses in a day that use the alley and wind up circling her building. Krich said she has lived in the building for 34 years.
“There are times when there are six or seven buses at a time,” she said. “Once there were 10 buses in a seven-minute period.”
There are no bushes or natural buffers between Krich's building and the alley, with the exception of a thin wooden fence.
Shepard, a Bay Terrace resident, said she became involved because no one else seemed to be helping Krich. She said the group would “form a human chain” to stop the buses if nothing was done to fix the problem.
Residents of the co-op contended that buses use the truck route as a turnaround and often sit idling while their drivers take a break or get lunch.
“Would you like to live like that?” Shepard asked Burke. “When you can't open your windows and you're awakened by buses at 6 a.m.?”
When Burke asked for an alternate turnaround, residents suggested Fort Totten.
“Everything is a possibility.” she said “That's why I'm here.”
Burke said she would examine an effective way to change the route and urged the residents to call the company with bus numbers if they saw the vehicles idling.
Gene McSweeney, a representative for state Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza (D-Bayside), said a meeting was held on various issues in Bay Terrace – including the buses – at Borough Hall a few weeks ago, but Krich and other residents of the co-op were not informed of it.
McSweeney said a follow-up meeting was scheduled for Nov. 21.
Shepard said they would wait until that meeting to see if the situation improved.