New express buses proposed for LaGuardia riders

Photo by Rebecca Henely
By Rebecca Henely

City and state transportation officials said they are proposing three new bus lines — including an express-like version of the M60 — to improve public transportation to LaGuardia Airport.

“It’s an exciting idea with a lot of benefits,” said Adam Lisberg, spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The proposals were unveiled at an open house at the Renaissance Charter School in Jackson Heights last week. Representatives from the MTA, as well as the city Department of Transportation and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, have been holding meetings and workshops for more than a year to identify ways to improve public transportation to LaGuardia that would cost relatively little to implement and could be implemented quickly.

“This is actually what we collected and what we think we can do,” said DOT Queens Commissioner Maura McCarthy.

While many types of public transportation were considered, from subway extensions to ferry service, the LaGuardia Airport Access Alternatives study determined that a rapid transit bus, known as Select Bus Service, would be the ideal solution.

Steve Holley, of the consulting firm AKRF, said these buses would make fewer stops than their regular counterparts, have their own designated lanes, allow riders to pay for a trip from sidewalk stations outside the bus and have special markings that would brand them as Select Bus Service.

“So you know you’re getting on an express bus rather than get on a bus you actually don’t want to be on,” Holley said.

From feedback, the organizations determined that an express version of the M60, which travels from 125th Street in Manhattan to LaGuardia via the Robert F. Kennedy-Triborough Bridge, was needed that would make fewer stops on 125th Street in Manhattan and in Queens and would allow for less conflict between airport-bound riders and those taking the bus for local stops in Manhattan.

Riders said delays and signal stops now mean a bus does not come for 15 minutes, but then four arrive in a row within a minute. More than 45 percent of LaGuardia Airport employees who take the bus to work use the M60.

Another bus line heavily used by airport employees is the Q33, which goes to the airport via multiple routes through Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst. Another Select Bus Service route would instead pick up passengers from Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside near the 61st-Street Woodside stop on the No. 7 train and Long Island Rail Road.

The route would then take them almost directly to the airport via the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Grand Central Parkway, cutting down a 32-minute ride to nine minutes.

The agencies also proposed a new Select Bus Service line from the Bronx via Webster Avenue.

Ed Walters, a Jackson Heights resident, said while he liked what he saw, he was not sure the plan really dealt with traffic congestion, especially as Roosevelt Avenue is so busy.

“There are a lot of good ideas,” Walters said, “but for someone who lives in the neighborhood they may see it a little bit differently.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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