By Connor Adams Sheets
Flushing community members are combining forces with advocacy groups and elected officials in an effort to make their voices heard on issues facing the neighborhood’s transportation system.
Residents joined with nonprofit transportation advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, Asian Americans for Equality, state Assemblyman William Brennan (D-Brooklyn), Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and City Councilman Peter Koo (R-Flushing) July 26 for a brainstorming session on transportation.
The goal was for residents to have an opportunity to express their concerns about the state of public transportation in the Flushing area and to offer possible solutions to those problems, which the legislators say they will take to Albany.
“We want to hear Flushing residents’ specific complaints and their solutions for the transportation system,” Transportation Alternatives Deputy Director Noah Budnick said. “Transportation Alternatives, working with AAFE, is going to put them all together and present them to elected representatives and the MTA to make some suggestions for tangible improvements for transit riders in Flushing.”
Flushing has become a major transit hub, with a busy No. 7 subway station, a Long Island Rail Road stop and many bus lines all converging downtown. The Flushing-Main Street subway station was the 10th-busiest in the city in 2010, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, with 18.6 million riders last year.
The intersection of Union Street and Northern Boulevard is the most dangerous in the entire borough for pedestrians, and the intersection of Main Street and Rooseveltï»¿ Avenue is tied with Manhattan’s 34th Street and Sixth Avenue for the third-highest traffic volume in the entire city, according to the city Department of Transportation. Only Times Square and 34th Street and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan have more traffic.
The evening began with remarks from the legislators and representatives of the advocacy groups, then broke out into a number of small groups, whose members filled out a transit survey and compiled lists of problems and solutions for improving the experience of getting around Flushing.
Each group appointed a leader, who was charged with standing and listing the results of their efforts to the other attendees.
Mo Kimberg, policy and outreach manager for Transportation Alternatives, led one such group, which identified overfilled buses and ï»¿subways, traffic and high fares as major issues facing Flushing.
“As far as solutions: more frequent buses, better communication so we know when buses are coming and when they aren’t … and having transit patterns that go where people actually live,” she told the several dozen attendees at the meeting at Flushing High School, at 35-01 Union St.ï»¿
The event came on the heels of MTA Chairman Jay Walder’s announcement earlier this month that he would be resigning from the authority in October to take a job in Hong Kong, which gave it greater import, according to Meng.
“This forum is a way for us to bring solutions back to the MTA,” she said at the end of the event. “It was very timely, unexpectedly, with the resignation of MTA Chairman Walder announced, and this gives us an opportunity to weigh in on who should be the next MTA chairman or chairwoman.”
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.