By Bill Parry
Riders and elected officials in western Queens are applauding the long-awaited permanent expansion of the Q103 bus line, which connects Astoria and Long Island City along Vernon Boulevard. The MTA approved the plan that would make weekend and expanded weeknight service permanent, linking numerous cultural institutions and waterfront parks in the two waterfront communities.
“Western Queens has long needed better bus service, so it is gratifying that the MTA responded to our concerns,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said. “There is so much happening throughout western Queens that our need for better methods of traveling between our neighborhoods has never been more pressing. This service expansion is a hard-fought victory, but I will never stop fighting for improved transit service in our community.”
The MTA began a pilot program in June 2014 with the Q103 running past neighborhoods that have recently experienced large population growth amid new residential developments and expanded cultural attractions like the Noguchi Museum and Socrates Sculpture Park.
The Q103 is also good for the environment, according to City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria). “As we move closer toward our goal of reducing our carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050,” he said. “We must encourage sustainable habits including the expansion of public transportation systems.”
The MTA says current weekday ridership is 1,100 customers with 250 to 300 on the weekends.
Elizabeth Lusskin, the president of the Long Island City Partnership, added that permanent service on the Q103 will have an economic benefit as well.
“The trial expansion during weekdays and adding weekend hours demonstrated clearly that western Queens has the people, the attractions and the need for full service mass transit running north-south along the waterfront, connecting those living and working in both great new buildings and historic older ones to each other and to the many assets of the neighborhood,” she said.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at q103bus or by phone at (718) 260–4538.