Q79 riders ‘forgotten’

Bob Friedrich, president of Glen Oaks Village, contends that the Taxi and Limousine Commission set up the Q79 line van service for failure.
The private van service that replaced the bus line officially cancelled service at the end of December 2010, said Friedrich.
He called Queens the “forgotten borough,” noting that even with 10,000 residents in Glen Oaks Village, the MTA and the TLC have essentially left them without public transportation.
Hopeful after the implementation of the group ride program, he and the other local civic groups offered suggestions to ensure that the van service would be a success, said Friedrich. He added that the commission ignored the suggestions, and excluded them from meetings about the issue.
However, Allan Fromberg, spokesperson for the TLC, said that they were inclusive of Friedrich and the community, having visited all the Community Boards that would host the group ride program.
Still, Friedrich contested that they did not include civic groups in the discussions and were not invited to meetings.
The van service failed because it just was not profitable for the company, said Councilmember Mark Weprin. Friedrich noted that the van service had told him they wasted money driving along the route when there was no one waiting to get picked up.
Friedrich and the local civics had proposed to extend the route a quarter of a mile to the Long Island Rail Road station in Floral Park to improve ridership.
Fromberg argued that the line could not be extended to the Floral Park station because it is in Nassau County, out of the TLC’s jurisdiction. He also said that there actually was signage posted with the operator’s contact information.
Also, the second main suggestion was to post the phone number of the van service on the signs at the route stops. This, he said, would prevent the vans from pointlessly traveling up and down the route if there were no potential passengers. Instead, riders could call the van service and arrange for a pick up.
Friedrich added that the lack of public transportation service along the route, “made seniors prisoners in their own home.”
“We will continue to do community outreach with regard to our efforts to assist customers displaced by the MTA,” said Fromberg.
From Glen Oaks Village to the nearest bus stop is now a nearly two mile trek, he said.
Joan Williams, a resident of Glen Oaks who walks with a cane, lives on Little Neck Parkway. She said that she has severe chronic arthritis and used to rely on the Q79 line to travel to Hillside Avenue to go shopping. Now, she and many other residents are homebound if they do not have alternate means of transportation.
To get around, her doctor gave her authorization to use the MTA’s Access-A-Ride service, which she can call to request transportation one day in advance.
“We’re the forgotten people on the hill,” she said.
Williams also noted that the van service did not have the same stops as the Q79, making it difficult to access.
Fromberg noted that the van service had six stops identical to the ones the Q79 maintained. He said three other stops were only a block away from their original points.
The TLC had posted a notice on its web site soliciting companies to work the previous Q79 route once again. The offering expired Friday, January 7. At this point in time, the TLC has two companies interested in taking over the route, and is evaluating their bids, said Fromberg.

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