By Fredrick Wells
I am writing to address the article “Bus lane cameras on Q44 Select Bus Service route worry community” (Feb. 5-11 issue). It’s important to remember that SBS was brought to our community because of need. Thousands of bus riders like myself are benefiting from these improvements—we often don’t have another mode of transportation. As a bus rider who uses the Q44 bus route and a longtime Queens resident it feels like we’re often left out of these conversations, like we aren’t considered part of this community.
The off-board fare collection was put in place to speed up the route, especially the trips between Jamaica and the Bronx, as this is a major and necessary route in Queens, along a heavily used corridor. There was an increase in service frequency when Select Bus Service was put in place, but this is not enough for the Q44 route (it should be running at 3- to 4-minute headways at peak hours and at 5- to 6-minute headways off-peak).
Between the long waits and the slow commutes, the status quo on our roads wasn’t working. Now we have more people moving in buses at a more efficient rate. Bus lanes significantly improve our commute, but without the proper enforcement this wouldn’t be the case. Changes are difficult for everyone, but we must bear them for the public good.
What we should be worried about is the ticketing to bus riders. The $100 fare-evasion ticket for almost two months now for not understanding this new bus system is an extremely punitive measure that is targeting low- to middle-income folks. It’s absurd that we have to pay $100 for a $2.75 mistake! If we really wanted less fare evasion, we would have more signage and assistance at bus stops clearly outlining the process and repercussions.