CB 7 votes no to design update for SBS plan connecting Flushing to Jamaica

Photos courtesy of the Department of Transportation

Community Board 7 overwhelmingly voted on Monday night against a design update given by Department of Transportation (DOT) officials on the Select Bus Service (SBS) route proposed to connect downtown Flushing to Jamaica.

The proposal got 32 votes against it, and only two board members voted in favor.

CB 7 Chair Gene Kelty criticized the DOT, saying that officials at the meeting did not realistically address the concerns of board members.

“If it’s good for them, it’s always good for them,” Kelty said. “And I’m sorry to beat them up but that’s exactly [what I can tell you] from 30-something years on this board.”

“It’s just not a really popular concept,” added Warren Schreiber, third vice chairperson of CB 7.

The main contention stemmed from skepticism on the merits of creating a designated bus lane in downtown Flushing, an infamous center of traffic congestion.

Board members believed that prohibiting vehicle access on bus lanes will only serve to worsen traffic. The bus lanes will be utilized by both SBS and regular MTA buses, as well as those of private bus companies, but privately owned personal vehicles will only be able to drive in general traffic lanes.

Concerns were also raised among the board that traffic would be slowed down if all private drivers in the transit hub were forced to fit in a single lane. They also alleged the congestion would be mainly detrimental to private vehicles with buses allowed to use the only general traffic lane in addition to the designated bus lane.

Members also expressed concern on the width of the proposed lanes, saying that the large public transit buses would not be able to adequately maneuver if confined to a single lane, or fit within the lane on wide turns.

The entire presentation given to CB 7 can be found on the DOT website.

The plan to implement Select Bus Service on the Q44 line is meant to move buses faster and and improve the connectivity between Queens and the Bronx.

Fare collection will take place on curbside machines managed by the MTA, and will be randomly enforced by transit inspectors. Riders pay with MetroCard or coins before boarding, take a ticket from a machine and will then be able to board bus through all three doors.

The implementation will also include repavement of the general traffic lanes and the installation of dedicated bus and right turn lanes alongside a curbside parking lane. Pedestrian sidewalks are also set to be made wider to accommodate dense foot traffic in the district, and stations for the new buses will be equipped with real-time estimates for its arrival.