By Madina Toure
The MTA and the city Department of Transportation held a lively forum in Kew Gardens Hills on their proposal for a Select Bus Service between Flushing and Jamaica that drew strong opposition and some support from the overflow crowd.
About 100 community members crammed into Townsend Harris HS’s third floor library to learn more about the plan to build Select Bus Service on Main Street, Kissena and Parsons boulevards and 164th Street and voice their opinions on the proposal.
The goal of the forum was to give the community more information about the proposal, said Eric Beaton, DOT’s director of transit development.
He stressed that the proposal is not a “done deal” and that the agency would come up with a plan based on what residents and community leaders have suggested as well as a traffic analysis determining where buses are really slow.
“We’ll come back to the community in forums to the community board, to the civic association and present a plan that we think might meet their desires and then we’ll get back feedback and we’ll make changes based on that,” Beaton said.
City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) and state Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz (D-Flushing), who are opposed to the project, spoke briefly at the forum.
“This is your opportunity to share with them your position in the format that they have set up,” Lancman said to a thunder of applause. “I think it’s fair to say that the vast majority of the people in this room share the views of Mike and myself.”
Simanowitz said the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the DOT should be given credit for providing some type of setting for a discussion.
“They do care and they want to hear from us and I think the turnout here is important,” Simanowitz said. “While the makeup of this meeting I don’t think is the best way to have a dialogue and a conversation, it certainly is a way to do it.”
DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg emphasized that the proposal was not set in stone.
“We want to get your input,” Trottenberg said.
Lancman, Simanowitz and Trottenberg were all interrupted at least once when they spoke. Individuals criticized the format of the meeting, what they described as poor publicity for the forum and the proposal itself.
Kew Gardens Hills resident Debbie Becker, 61, said she is against the project.
“We use Main Street to get to the Van Wyck Expressway,” Becker said. “As it is, it’s a bottleneck on Union Turnpike. It’s not going to be possible to get to the highway.”
But some say the service is necessary for the area.
“There are times when you’re waiting for a bus and the line is so long so you have to go through a traffic cycle, maybe even two traffic cycles, because the line is so long,” said Sheldon Silver, 42, a Kew Gardens Hills resident, said.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour[email protected]local.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.