By Juan Soto
It already has the land, but it is missing the money.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority bought this year several properties adjacent to the South Jamaica bus depot with a plan to expand the facility in order to alleviate the lack of bus parking space.
City Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) testified last Thursday before the state Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions regarding the MTA’s 2015-19 capital plan hearing to request the new Jamaica bus depot is built.
“We require an expanded depot with additional bus counts that would be able to handle additional service needs,” the councilman said. “I trust it will be in the budget,” he added, referring to the MTA’s four-year capital project.
Miller said the land purchased will allow the facility to expand onto Merrick Boulevard.
The MTA paid more than $6.5 million to acquire four properties alongside Merrick Boulevard just south of York College and Tuskegee Airmen Way. The negotiation included a nearby fifth property. In total, the MTA added to its portfolio 50,000 square feet.
“This depot, where major repairs are done, is vital to the effective use of bus service for southeast Queens riders,” he said. That’s why, added Miller, “it must remain the highest priority.”
The Jamaica bus depot was built in 1940 and is one of the oldest in the city. It houses approximately 200 buses that cover a total of nine southeast Queens routes. The depot grew small for all the operations running from South Jamaica, and during nights and weekends a lot of the buses are parked alongside Merrick Boulevard, creating a nuisance for neighbors.
Miller, former president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1056, also called for the expansion of bus routes “to serve the outlying portions” of Queens.
The former head of the Queens bus drivers union also said the MTA “should bring riders from the outerboroughs into downtown Manhattan and not just end at the subway terminals.”
The councilman told the Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions that southeast Queens “desperately depends on mass transit with its residents enduring one of the longest commutes” in New York City.
The New York City Transit system currently operates more than 4,400 buses.
“It is still not enough to guarantee the rights of New Yorkers to have safe and reliable transportation,” Miller testified.
With 7,000 new buses being purchased through 2034, the councilman said that “we must confirm that these buses are deployed in the most effective manner.”
Miller also said at the hearing that the MTA must do construction to protect “our system from future storms.”
He pointed out that the work should include groundwater flooding at the Archer-Parsons subway station.
Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4564.