By Bill Parry
The newly expanded Q103 bus service between Astoria and Long Island City will made its debut Sunday, providing a link between numerous cultural institutions near or along Vernon Boulevard.
The Q103 will also bring riders to several popular waterfront parks on weekends.
“I am thrilled the MTA is finally realizing western Queens’ need for increased mass transit is real and pressing,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said. “This is a milestone for all of us who fought for years to get proper bus service for the growing communities of Astoria and Long Island City.”
The MTA will offer the expanded weekend service on a trial basis throughout the summer. A public hearing will be scheduled for a review before a decision is made on whether or not it will be permanent.
“It’s a step in the right direction towards finally establishing permanent service for western Queens riders,” City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said. “Western Queens has become New York City’s center for arts and culture and it is also one of the city’s fastest-growing locations. By establishing permanent Q103 service, we will give riders an additional mode of transportation that they can rely on and will provide thousands of New York City riders with access to our world-class cultural institutions and organizations.”
The Q103 takes riders past Socrates Sculpture Park, the Noguchi Museum and the Chocolate Factory theater.
“Weekend Q103 service will help make our institutions more accessible to a wider audience, and we sincerely hope this extended service can continue beyond the summer,” Noguchi Museum Director Jenny Dixon said.
Sheila Lewandowski, founder and executive director of the Chocolate Factory theater, added, “It’s the only public transportation to move residents, visitors and workers from south to north along the western Queens waterfront. Thanks to the senator’s persistence in getting the message out that we are open and accessible seven days a week, our cultural institutions and our food and drink destinations will welcome new visitors from all over the world every day.”
While linking such destinations is important for economic development in that part of Queens, it also helps residents who live a good distance away from the subway system, according to Jess Nizar, a senior organizer at the Riders Alliance.
“This signifies an important transit improvement for waterfront communities in Astoria and LIC,” he said. “Reliable public transit means better access to community institutions, jobs and healthcare for residents.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.