By Madina Toure
A new pilot program to create limited-zone bus service, as well as other short- and long-term improvements, are among the recommendations unveiled as part of the Northeast Queens Bus Study funded by state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside).
The $500,000, 130-pagestudy, money allocated in the state executive budget, looks at service primarily in the neighborhoods of Flushing, Whitestone, Bay Terrace, Bayside, College Point, Oakland Gardens, Douglaston, Glen Oaks, Fresh Meadows and Little Neck.
The limited-zone bus route—the first of its kind—combines features of limited and express service that could benefit the Q17, Q27, Q43 and Q46, according to the study.
The limited-zone bus route would function as a cross between local and limited service lines, stopping only a few blocks apart in some areas, while traveling across non-stop sections, according to Avella.
The Q12 and the Q88 are currently being studied to participate in the pilot program for the limited-zone bus route, Avella said.
Avella said the MTA has met with Community Boards 7, 8, 11 and 13 and that the civic associations in the area were notified as well. He also said he had sent out a survey to his constituents seeking specific suggestions for improving bus service in the area, which is served by only one subway, the No. 7, which runs to downtown Flushing.
“This is a good step forward, but there are other things that we still need to press the MTA for for bus service,” he said. “So this is not the end of the line. It’s the beginning of a story to get more bus service for northeast Queens and those neighborhoods by Queens-Nassau.”
Kevin Ortiz, an MTA spokesman, said it is too early to discuss a timeline for when the recommendations will be implemented.
“While this study confirms that bus service in northeast Queens generally exceeds the performance of buses throughout Queens and citywide, some areas were identified for potential improvements,” Ortiz said in a statement. “As the report says, we’ll look at some immediate, and possible mid-range and long-term solutions, including new ideas like limited-zone bus service in Northeast Queens.”
The MTA analyzed 39 bus routes operating in northeast Queens, an area covering 31 square miles bound by Flushing Bay and Van Wyck Expressway to the west, Hillside Avenue to the south, the Nassau County line to the east and the East River to the north.
The MTA will be looking at scheduling additional trips on the Q12, Q13, Q28 and Q58 bus lines and create 24-hour service on the Q20A line in conjunction with the rollout of the Q44 Select Bus Service route.
The agency also plans to analyze the feasibility of overnight service on the Q13, Q30 and Q88 and changing the travel path of the Q65 in Flushing to provide more reliable all-day service on Parsons Boulevard alongside the part-time Q26.
In the long term, the MTA will explore alternatives to expand north-south service throughout northeast Queens and implement additional Select Bus Service along major transit routes such as Hillside Avenue, Northern Boulevard and Union Turnpike.
The MTA will also look into the creation of a Downtown Flushing Bus Terminal where new developments are underway.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour