Judge throws out lawsuit over Fresh Pond Road bus lane in Ridgewood

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Photo: Mark Hallum/QNS

An attorney representing the Fresh Pond Coalition was swiftly rebuked by a Queens Supreme Court judge deliberating on the Article 78 proceeding filed last week to stop the Fresh Pond bus lanes by tying it up in litigation.

Judge Joseph Esposito dismissed Arthur Schwartz’s argument against the southbound bus lanes would bring economic ruin to the shops on the corridor within a half hour on Monday.

“To me one of our arguments is the secret argument, and that is that they should have done an environmental assessment,” Schwartz said. “We don’t know exactly how many [daily bus riders] it is … They’re going to have to actually show us where they got these numbers.”

City Department of Transportation estimates put the ridership on lines traversing Fresh Pond at 30,000 per day.

Esposito was not convinced that turning 17 alternated side parking spaces into metered parking would hurt business either, pointing out to Schwartz that this means there will be turnover instead of cars occupying a space for many hours at a time.

“I’m not an expert and neither are you,” Esposito said in response to Schwartz’s claims. “You know why [Fresh Pond Coalition doesn’t] like it? They don’t like it because nobody likes change. I don’t like change … But it’s not about me. It’s not about a narrow group of people who use the roads … Everybody has to share the road, you don’t see that? It looks like you’re taking a really parochial, myopic view.”

Esposito prefaced his determinations by looking back at his tour of Fresh Pond Road on Friday which he called “unnecessary.”

“We are grateful to Justice Joseph Esposito for his decision today to keep the bus lane open along Fresh Pond Road during afternoon rush hours,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. “Since we installed this new lane on Aug. 27, initial MTA data indicate that one of the slowest streets for buses in Queens has seen a dramatic improvement in travel times, which benefits 30,000 New Yorkers who rely on the Q58 as well as the QM24, QM 25 and QM34 Express bus routes.”

The 3 mph, three-mile span of Fresh Pond serves multiple bus lanes and also sees traffic from out of services buses coming from all over Queens and Brooklyn. It is also one of the few north-south routes in southwestern Queens.

The city Department of Transportation was backed in court by Riders Alliance and nonprofit TransitCenter who submitted an amicus before the noon hearing. Danny Pearlstein said the Article 78 had the potential to tie the bus lane up in mitigation that could consume time for riders getting to and from work for years.

“It’s frustrating because these are kind of hard-won victories for transit riders,” Pearlstein said. “We push and push and push, but the city has its own agenda. These things individually require the mayor’s focus and obviously that is kind of short. So just to get them up to that agenda is a big deal, to be a big part of the Better Buses Action Plan. The Better Buses Action Plan is not going to solve every rider’s problems, but it’s a move forward.”