Residents from all over Queens traveled to Ridgewood on Monday night to tell the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) what they want to see when it comes to the city’s mass transit system, including quicker service, more options and better connections, during a Citywide Transit Plan workshop.
As New York City continues to grow — with a projected population of 9 million people by 2040 — the DOT is looking toward the future and how to better accommodate the millions of people who rely on the public transit system every single day.
As part of their Citywide Transit Plan, the DOT transformed the cafeteria of I.S. 77 into a public workshop where Queens transit riders could point out problems they face and changes they would like to see made to transit system.
Through a series of discussions and by using maps of the city, the DOT asked transit riders where they live, where they work, places they often visit, places they refrain for visiting because they are too difficult to access via public transportation, and what services and amenities they would like to see improved upon or implemented.
Many residents pointed out that both bus and subway service is often slow and unreliable. They also do not reach all points in the city, making it difficult to access certain areas, and often it takes two or more transfers to get long distances.
“In central Queens the buses are too slow. My thing is, if you’re going to force somebody out of their car, give them some good options,” said Joe Hartigan resident of the Rockaways. “If you live in the middle of Queens and it’s faster to take the bus to Queens Center Mall, you’re going to take the bus … Don’t force somebody out of their car and give them a worse option; give them a better option.”
Other residents echoed Hartigan’s sentiments, wanting to see more options to help get people out of their cars and taking mass transit.
Fredrick Wells, a resident of Laurelton, said he wants to see expanded subway and bus service throughout eastern Queens. Wells also wants to see new transportation options come to life where there currently is none, like restoring service to the inactive Rockaway Beach Line.
“I’m here primarily to support the Queens Rail, which is the Rockaway Beach Rail Line, with an extension to Midtown,” Wells said. “I’m here to support the Select Bus Service (SBS), [because] we need a variety types of bus services.”
Overall, the DOT received a lot of useful information from the workshop, and the staff is looking forward to the other four meetings scheduled over the next month in The Bronx, Staten Island, Manhattan, and another in Elmhurst.
“We certainly heard a lot about how hard it is to get around on the bus sometimes, and the bus can be slow and unreliable, or not make the right connections. We certainly heard about how the subway doesn’t go all over,” said Eric Beaton, senior director of transportation development with DOT. “We know that we want to look at what we can do in the long run, but in the short- and medium-term, we want to look at how buses can fill that gap. Part of the reason we are here tonight is we want to hear which needs are most important.”