Bus change causes concerns

City Councilman Dan Halloran (second from l.) and former City Councilman Tony Avella (third from l.) join with neighbors to voice their opposition to an MTA proposal to cancel the Q14 bus line and route the new Q15A line through a residential neighborhood in Whitestone. Photo by Connor Adams Sheets
By Connor Adams Sheets

More than 50 Whitestone residents joined Monday afternoon with City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) and former Councilman Tony Avella to oppose an MTA plan to shut down the Q14 bus line to Flushing and replace it with the new Q15A bus line along 10th Avenue.

Residents and leaders said locating a bus stop on narrow 10th Avenue would be a dangerous and irritating disruption.

Sal Rappa lives at the intersection of 10th Avenue and 152nd Street. The buses will stop in front of his single-family home if the bus route goes into effect Sunday, as is currently planned.

“The quality of life is going to go down the drain. We’re going to have heavier traffic, more noise and air pollution and you already can’t get two cars side-by-side down 10th Avenue,” he said. “Add a bus to that and it’s a recipe for disaster: heavier traffic, car accidents, pedestrian accidents.”

The new path has been proposed as a way to serve areas being served by the Q14 route which connects Flushing and Whitestone and will be discontinued this weekend.. The Q15 connects the Flushing-Main Street No. 7 subway station to Beechhurst along roads including the 150th Street commercial corridor, Cross Island Parkway and Powells Cove Boulevard. The Q15A would follow 7th Avenue, Clintonville Street and 10th Avenue and include the residential-area stop at 152nd Street in order to continue to provide service to those areas while saving money by stopping the Q14 line.

“By operating the Q15A on 150th Street, 7th Avenue, Clintonville Street and 10th Avenue we’re able to, one: continue providing service to a large number of former Q14 customers,” MTA spokesman James Anyansi said. “We’re also able to provide the approximately 250 people in each direction who currently use the Q15 north of Powells Cove Boulevard and 157th Street sufficient service to Flushing and, finally, which is of course why we have all these reductions in place, we are able to achieve $1.4 million in annual savings by eliminating the Q14.”

He said the Q14 was chosen for elimination because of its low ridership and its ability to be accommodated through creation of the Q15A route.

Avella said he is prepared to stand in the middle of 10th Avenue to block traffic and keep buses from driving down the residential block.

“The latest plan by the MTA, which is to create a new 15A line, is not only absurd, it’s also very dangerous for the families of this neighborhood. It’s an accident waiting to happen,” Avella said. “Why would you want to put the families of these blocks at risk? It makes no sense …. If we have to stand in the street in front of the bus — which I’m willing to do — we’re not going to allow a bus to come down this road.”

Anyansi said he believes 10th Avenue is an acceptable street along which to route part of the Q15A line.

“It is somewhat narrow but it meets all our legal requirements for bus operation,” he said. “We will monitor it very closely after implementation date to make sure it’s not a hazard.”

Halloran is upset the Metropolitan Transportation Authority did not contact local leaders and elected officials, including himself, before deciding on the proposal. He sent a letter expressing his anger over the agency’s lack of contact and voicing his opposition to the new bus route to MTA Chairman and CEO Jay Walder Friday.

The letter had not been answered as of Monday afternoon. He said in the letter and again Monday that there were better alternatives to rerouting the line as currently proposed.

“The 15A cannot go forward on this block,” Halloran told the assembled crowd. “There are commercial strips right up the block where they could have located a bus stop. The MTA doesn’t consider community concerns.”

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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