Major changes could soon be underway for mass transit users in northeast Queens.
In their most recent meeting last week, Community Board 11 members updated the community with news of a $500,000 allocation in state funds to study bus service restoration in northeast Queens.
The funding was secured by state Senator Tony Avella during negotiations before the state budget was passed on March 31. As part of the deal, the MTA is now required to immediately begin a yearlong study on ways to improve bus service and examine the effects of budget cuts implemented in the last five years.
As part of the study, the MTA is also required to seek public input. Representatives of the transportation agency have already been meeting with community boards in affected areas to facilitate the dialogue and present the preliminary results of an assessment study on northeast Queens bus service which is slated to be finished in May.
Chris Petallides, co-chair of Community Board 11 Transportation Committee, said that although the board did submit a wish list of needs and particular concerns, how to ultimately streamline and improve bus service is a decision that rests with the MTA.
“Not that I want to downplay our input, but we are not experts in this,” Petallides said. “The best we can do is give them our personal experiences about delays, specific lines.”
Workshops have also been held to assess public opinion on what services are needed for bus riders in northeast Queens. Issues raised at these meetings included requests for more routes, requests for later service on existing routes, and complaints of drivers not stopping to pick up customers because buses are crowded, among other concerns.
In a released statement, Avella underscored the lack of transportation options faced by his constituents.
“Northeast Queens, and specifically the 11th Senatorial District, has always been underserved in terms of bus service and mass transportation options,” said Avella. “That is why it is vitally important for the MTA to do this study and thoroughly examine the feasibility of extending or rerouting existing bus routes in these neighborhoods.”
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