The Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce met with representatives of the MTA and Department of Transportation (DOT) on May 22 to express their skepticism over the benefits of a proposed Select Bus Service (SBS) line set to run from Flushing to Jamaica.
Small business owners felt the most threatened over the possible impact to parking availability in the area. One of the proposed changes will see the area getting a dedicated bus lane for SBS service, and in some cases possibly displacing lanes currently used for curbside parking.
“I am afraid that losing more business due to parking unavailability will result in my business reducing our staff or worse,” said Andrew Hai, owner of Flushing NAPA Automotive Inc. “We are a small business and need all the customers we can get.”
Although local civic groups were in favor of the SBS plans, they also emphasized the need to maintain parking resources.
“The Queensboro Hill Flushing Civic Association supports the implementation of SBS,” said the group’s president Don Capalbi, although he did urge the DOT to ensure that parking lanes will be preserved. “Elimination of Main Street parking will decimate our local small business hub and the community they serve.”
Nicole Garcia, the DOT’s Queens commissioner, said officials will continue to work with the chamber to ensure that the needs of businesses will be prioritized in transit system changes.
Select Bus Service is an improved bus service that aims to offer fast, frequent and reliable service on high-ridership bus routes. SBS lines decrease travel time by utilizing off-board fare collection by kiosk, dedicated bus lanes and transit signal priority.
A two-phase study completed in 2006 and 2009 identified Main Street and Kissena/Parsons boulevards between Flushing and Jamaica as corridors that could support and greatly benefit from Select Bus Service. The four bus lines along the two thoroughfares move at overall speeds of under 10 mph, and some are delayed for nearly 50 percent of travel time.
The meeting between transit officials and the chamber is part of the ongoing third round of public outreach for SBS implementation. Open houses will be held this week in both Flushing and Jamaica to solicit additional input from the general public and to discuss street design and bus stop locations.
The Flushing open house will be held in Flushing Town Hall at 137-35 Northern Blvd. on Wednesday, May 27, from 6 to 8 p.m. In Jamaica an open house will be held at the Jamaica LIRR Station Atrium Lobby on Sutphin Boulevard the following night, May 28, from 6 to 8 p.m.