By Bill Parry
The MTA relaunched its Q70 bus on Sunday as the new LaGuardia Link special bus service which will provide travelers and airport employees with better transit options to and from LaGuardia to transit hubs at 61st Street in Woodside and 74th Street/Broadway in Jackson Heights. The specially marked buses will speed service with off-board fare collection.
“We look forward to the newly branded LaGuardia Link playing an even greater role in making the airport more accessible,” MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said. “We have launched marketing and promotions that will add to the strong ridership the Q70 has by both tourists going to and from flights and employees at the airport.”
Transportation advocacy groups Global Gateway Alliance and Riders Alliance applauded the MTA for providing riders with quick, convenient and recognizable access from LaGuardia to the E, F, M, R and 7 trains and the Long Island Rail Road. The new transit access will provide relief for travelers from traffic snarls at the airport due to the airport reconstruction project now underway.
On Aug. 22, the gridlock was so bad passengers were forced to leave vehicles and make a mad dash through traffic on foot in order to make their flights, although the Port Authority and LaGuardia Gateway Partners have made adjustments to traffic patterns, moved the taxi stand further east away from the front of the airport and established a mobile command station.
“Finally, getting to LaGuardia on public transit is an easy and intuitive option for riders,” Riders Alliance Executive Director John Raskin said. “The new LaGuardia Link provides a clear connection between the airport and the subways, bringing LaGuardia one step closer to the city and making air travel easier for transit riders. If we got the word out, the new LaGuardia Link can even help untangle some of the airport’s notorious traffic jams by getting more people out of cars and onto public transit.”
Raskin and Joe Sitt, the Chairman of Global Gateway Alliance, urged the MTA to make the LaGuardia Link a free service to maximize its ridership and alleviate congestion at the airport by motor vehicles.
“In order to be truly effective, the MTA must now also make the route free,” Sitt said. The Q70 was already popular with more than 4,000 daily riders, an 18 percent increase from 2014.
“We don’t agree with the premises behind the proposal to run it free,” Ortiz said. “We have no doubt that people would ride MTA services more frequently if they were free, but that’s simply not financially feasible.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr