Transit Triumphs

Queens is finally coming up on the MTA’s radar.

Flushing’s Long Island Rail Road station, an embarrassing blight on the vibrant downtown area, is on track to get elevators to take riders up to the elevated platforms above. The only way to reach the platforms now is to climb two steep staircases on each side of the station, which means handicapped riders are out of luck along with many elderly people.

And the stairs to the Manhattan-bound platform rise up out of 40th Road, which is dark at night, icy in the winter and littered with trash much of the time. Once the intrepid commuter reaches the platform, the only shelter from the elements is a dank urban lean-to without any seating.

Time for an upgrade even if it means the Metropolitan Transportation Authority must seize a privately owned building on Main Street to install the elevators. A food stall under the station has already closed.

Flushing is the fourth-largest economic center in the city with a Third World railroad hub, which defies logic. The MTA must be listening at last after years of unanswered pleas from Flushing elected officials and community activists for a respectable station.

The MTA has made some innovative moves with its buses to accommodate visitors to Queens as well as residents.

The new Q70 Select Bus is whisking passengers from the Woodside LIRR- subway station to LaGuardia Airport in as little as 15 minutes with a stop at the Roosevelt-Jackson Heights station along the way. A skeptical TimesLedger Newspapers reporter clocked the time in a trip last week.

The MTA says the ride from Manhattan using the No. 7 train and the new bus should take an astounding 35 minutes (if the 7 isn’t slowed down by signal problems).

In booming Astoria and Long Island City, the MTA has boosted morning rush hour bus service by 20 percent on the Q103. The bus will also make it easier for visitors to reach Socrates Sculpture Park, the Noguchi Museum and Queensbridge Park, some of the borough’s crown jewels.

Over in Ozone Park, the MTA has almost completed design plans for an overhaul of the elevated Lefferts Boulevard subway station, which will get two 24-hour elevators to make it ADA-compliant.

Queens is on a roll at last. Once these projects are completed, next on the agenda should be the mother of all challenges: faster north/south bus service in the borough.

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