Community leaders against Q44 Select Bus Service route

By Madina Toure

Community Board 7 and the Flushing BID have expressed reservations about the upcoming Q44 Bronx-Flushing-Jamaica Select Bus Service route project, which the city Department of Transportation says has already started.

A DOT spokesman said the agency started to install white lane markings for the bus lanes two weeks ago and that it expects the red paint for “Only Bus” lanes to begin in the next two weeks.

The spokesman said a bus lane will be installed on Main Street between 60th Avenue and 41st Avenue/Kissena Boulevard and that the DOT and the MTA expect the project to be completed this fall.

At the end of September, 32 CB 7 board members voted against the implementation of the route. Two voted for the proposal and one abstained due to a conflict of interest.

One of the concerns was a loss of parking spaces, which would have a substantial effect on the business communities of Queensboro Hill and downtown Flushing.

CB 7Chairman Gene Kelty said he has voiced his frustrations with City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) and that the board noticed the new dash markings on 41st Road and Main Street by its office.

“They just seem to repave certain sections of Main Street and they now redid all the markings,” he said. “It looks like they’re moving straight ahead.”

The Q44 SBS will replace the Q44 limited bus, following its route from Merrick Boulevard in Jamaica to the Bronx Zoo.

In a letter dated Sept. 29 to MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast, Kelty said he received an email from the Downtown Flushing Transit Hub Business Improvement District, also known as the Flushing BID, detailing the impact the bus route would have on the local business community.

Kelty also wrote that he received a petition against the route from each of the businesses in Queensboro Hill.

The DOT’s plans to start a capital reconstruction to widen the sidewalks in the downtown area would narrow the roadbed and, along with the exclusive bus lane, would worsen traffic congestion.

The Flushing BID sent a letter to CB 7 and elected officials about three weeks ago arguing that the new route will push traffic onto the side streets.

Dian Yu, the Flushing BID’s executive director, said the bus lane has been implemented on part of Main Street from Northern Boulevard all the way down to Horace Harding Expressway, noting that machines have been added to the Q44 stop.

He said the only area where it has not been done is from 38th Avenue to 41st Avenue because that is the part where that will be redrawn.

“We are concerned that by having this bus lane, we will scare away the people who normally come to downtown Flushing to shop because downtown Flushing is a business district where the businesses rely on people to drive to downtown Flushing and shop,” Yu said.

Koo said his office has worked with the DOT to ensure that the majority of the parking spaces are retained through offset bus lanes and noted that traffic congestion will intensify in the area in the future.

“SBS has a track record of improving traffic conditions in other parts of the city, so I’m willing to give it a try in downtown Flushing as long as the city remains cooperative about community engagement,” he said in a statement.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.