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Atlas Park bus re-routing draws anger

sSeveral Glendale community members may seek legal help to stop a planned bus re-route to The Shops of Atlas Park, scheduled to go into effect in July.
After two weeks of gathering signatures on a petition against the plan, residents have vowed to continue the fight, even if the change goes into effect next month.
“If it goes through, that’s not going to stop me,” said Michael O’Kane, a 20-year resident of the neighborhood and professional photographer.
On Saturday, June 30, The Shops have scheduled a “Spring into Summer” festival, featuring a mini-golf course, which will be the last day before the bus service is launched.
Starting July 1, the Q54 will veer off Metropolitan Avenue and onto Cooper Avenue, passing by The Shops of Atlas Park. The bus will then make a right onto 80th Street, heading north again, and then a left onto Metropolitan to continue its regular route. According to signage posted along the new route, there will be about 160 buses - heading both east and west - between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. each weekday.
According to a spokesperson from The Shops, organizers had been lobbying for the change for the past five years and have already invested $200,000 in a bus shelter that will be placed outside of the mall.
“Mass transit is the best way for New York City to manage its congestion, and so bringing buses to places where buses want to go is good city planning. Since Cooper Avenue is already a truck route, I doubt that anyone will notice any impact from an additional five to six vehicles each hour,” said Development Director Damon Hemmerdinger for The Shops.
“The idea that there will be another bus along the road is terrible. If you come here between the hours of 7 and 9 a.m., and 3 and 6 p.m., traffic is nose-to-nose, back-to-back,” O’Kane said.
O’Kane said that bus riders headed to the mall could currently transfer to the Q29, which runs north and south on 80th Street or walk to The Shops from the current stop along Metropolitan and 80th Street.
Residents said that they were upset with what they perceived as little notice given to them about the re-route, even though Hemmerdinger said he began working with the local community board sometime between 2000 and 2001.
According to Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), the re-route will cost $225,000 annually. However, the agency expects the change to increase ridership and revenue. Along with 1,550 employees who will work at The Shops once completed, developers expect 6.8 million shoppers per year.
Still, O’Kane scoffed at the projected operating cost increase.
“I can tell them [the MTA] how to save almost $1 million in four years,” O’Kane said. “Don’t re-route the bus.”

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