By Larry Penner
It was four years ago, on Monday morning, Jan. 7, 2013, I was able to board the first bus departing from the Little Neck Long Island Rail Road station.
The Q36 resumed weekday service on the old Q79 Little Neck Parkway bus route. My wife and I had the opportunity to be the last two riders prior to the demise of our old New York City Transit Q79 Little Neck Parkway bus.
On Saturday, June 25, 2010, at 6:23 p.m., right on time, we boarded the Q79 bus departing Little Neck for its last run to Jericho Turnpike in Floral Park. Many of my neighbors residing in Great Neck within walking distance of the City Line periodically utilized this bus route.
Service began June 4, 1950. The newly created New York City Transit Authority assumed operations in 1953. The bus would take me to Union Turnpike and after short walk, to the old Glen Oaks Movie Theater along with Mays Department Store.
Many have long forgotten that there was a time when bus drivers actually had to make change and drive all at the same time. No one dared bring any food on the bus or leave any litter behind.
When the MTA introduced Metro Cards in 1996 with free transfers between subway and bus, riding the Q79 became an even better bargain and become a more frequent part of my journey.
If service was suspended or seriously delayed on the Port Washington Branch, the Q79 was my little secret lifeline.
It was always sad that residents of Floral Park practiced the NYMBY (Not In My Back Yard) philosophy and refused to grant permission to extend the Q79 to the Floral Park LIRR Station.
Extending the Q36 route from its previous terminus on Jericho Turnpike at the City Line north along Little Neck Parkway to the Little Neck LIRR station restores all the old Q79 connections and adds many new ones.
At Northern Blvd., you can transfer to the Q12 Flushing bus. Last stop is the Main Street Flushing No. 7 Subway Station. There are over sixteen other local NYCT and MTA bus connections available in downtown Flushing.
At Horace Harding Blvd and Long Island Expressway, you can transfer to the Q30 bus.
At Union Turnpike, there is the Q46 bus providing service to 260th Street Glen Oaks and the City Line.
At Hillside Avenue, you can transfer to the Q43 bus in either direction to the City Line or Jamaica LIRR Station, along with the subway.
There are also many other local NYCT bus connections along with N22 NICE bus to Mineola and Hicksville.
At Jericho Turnpike, you can walk three blocks south and catch the Hempstead LIRR Branch at the Floral Park Station. There is also the N24 NICE bus with connections to Mineola, Roosevelt Field Mall and East Meadow.
This new enhanced Q36 bus service now provides a new one seat bus ride for riders boarding along Little Neck Parkway with a direct connection to the Hempstead branch LIRR at the Queens Village Station (at the corner of Jamaica Avenue & Springfield Blvd.) and F subway line at either the 179th St or 169th Street stations along Hillside Avenue.
It continues to be up to several thousand Queens and Nassau County residents who live within a one to ten block walking radius west and east of Little Neck Parkway to utilize this new bus service. Without sufficient ridership supporting a reasonable fare box recovery rate, it may be difficult to continue justifying this service. Sadly, many old riders have yet to return.
The LIRR Little Neck parking lot is at capacity regularly. You are directed to drive to the adjacent Douglaston LIRR Station parking lot. Things are so bad, that the attendant sometimes has to double park cars to accommodate everyone.
Many who do not want to pay, park on the street, sometimes many blocks from the station. This periodically creates conflicts with some neighborhood residents who use the same spots in front of their homes. Why not consider asking the LIRR to promote the new Q36 Little Neck Parkway service on their passenger information seat drops?
NYCT could also ask the LIRR to include an insert with the next monthly mail and ride ticket informing customers of the Q36 service. Buying a weekly or monthly Metro Card addition on to your LIRR Monthly Commutation ticket can be a good deal.
Many new people who have moved into the neighborhood have no idea that there is bus service on Little Neck Parkway.
Why not consider doing a mass mailing by census track to identify those people who live within walking distance of Little Neck Parkway? This might attract new riders.
Your support is critical to ensure that this important local community service remains available tomorrow.