The MTA will convert not one, but two limited stop bus routes along Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards into Select Bus Service (SBS) lines this November.
This new set of SBS routes would effectively replace the Q52 and Q53 limited-stop routes that run on the boulevards between Elmhurst and the Rockaways, Stephen A. Vidal, acting president of MTA Bus Company, wrote in a Sept. 15 letter written to Congresswoman Grace Meng; QNS obtained a copy of the correspondence.
MTA and the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) held nearly two dozen public participation workshops to help find the best area for the next SBS routes, and the Q52 and Q53 were named “solid candidates” for the SBS program. They both carry a large volume of passengers on a heavily used corridor that is often gridlocked with traffic, especially during rush hours.
The plan to implement SBS routes on the Q52 and Q53 lines was presented to the NYC Transit and Bus Committee of the MTA Board for informational purposes on Monday, Sept. 25, and the city agency is expecting the changes to take effect on or about Sunday, Nov. 12, according to an MTA spokesperson.
In the Sept. 15 letter, Vidal noted the importance of both Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards as vital north-south roadways, and that Cross Bay is one of a few routes that connect the Rockaways to the rest of the city.
“Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards constitute a major north-south corridor in Queens,” Vidal wrote. “Along the entire corridor, there is a high concentration of residential land uses, as well as a number of key activity centers that generate significant bus trip activity.”
The routes connect passengers to other major transportation options including nine subway lines (7/A/E/F/M/R/J/Z/Shuttle to Rockaway Park) and the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR).
Although some residents in neighborhoods where the SBS will run had expressed opposition to the plan, the MTA contends that transforming the Q52 and Q53 routes as SBS lines will increase the average bus speed and ridership, as the program has done for the city’s other 15 SBS routes.
No major changes are being made to the Q52 and Q53 routes, but a number of bus stops in the Rockaways and Broad Channel are being consolidated (see below). As part of the plan, DOT has been working to create bus lanes on Woodhaven Boulevard south of Metropolitan Avenue; an additional approximately 2.6 miles of bus lanes are being added to the nearly 1.5 miles of off-set bus lanes north of Metropolitan Avenue.
When implementation is complete, the Q52 and Q53 SBS will stop at newly constructed boarding areas along the existing medians that separate the service road from the main road of Woodhaven Boulevard to maintain three lanes of traffic in each direction. These stations will have features including shelters, improved waiting areas, public art, and more. DOT also plans to install bus priority queue jumps at specific locations in areas without designated bus lanes.
The new Q52 and Q53 SBS routes will also feature off-board fare collection, special three-door articulated buses, and traffic signal prioritization, along with plans to install wayfinding signage to provide real-time bus arrival information at most SBS stations.
What follows is a list of the proposed route changes and a map outlining them.