With MTA Bus planning to reconstruct and expand the existing Jamaica Bus Depot beginning in 2021, City Councilman I. Daneek Miller, state Senator Leroy Comrie and 16 other Queens elected officials sent a letter to MTA Chairman Patrick Foye and NYC Transit President Andy Byford urging the agency to construct the new depot with enclosed parking, as opposed to the authority’s preferred plan of open-air parking.
The elected officials expressed their “disappointment” with the proposal, noting the facility at 165-18 Tuskegee Airmen Way in Jamaica, heading into its 80th year, was obsolete years ago.
“At this juncture, the strain and state of the depot has led to the improper storage of buses, with up to 60 at a time parked on adjacent public streets and next to a local senior center,” the elected officials wrote. “With the Jamaica Bus depot housing many of the buses with the busiest routes in Queens, including those that terminate in the Downtown Jamaica area, proper infrastructure that addresses the concerns of the surrounding community is crucial.”
Currently, pollutants and loud mechanical noises negatively impact the quality of life of locals and to add insult to injury, they wrote, the local community board and the union which represents the workers at the depot, ATU 1056, made it clear they preferred enclosed parking in the residential neighborhood.
“Additionally, to allow for open air parking at this depot would be to continue to perpetuate decades of environmental injustices against the residents of Southeast Queens, who suffer some of the highest asthma rates in the city,” they wrote. “To simply rebuild a depot that has been part of the problem, allowing pollutants and noise to be released into the open air and harm our community, is for the MTA to be complicit in continuing to victimize local residents.”
QNS reached out to the MTA and is awaiting a response.
In closing, the elected officials — including several from districts outside southeast Queens, such as City Council members Peter Koo, Daniel Dromm and Karen Koslowitz, and state Assembly members David Weprin and Nily Rozic — urged the MTA to reconsider the proposal that included enclosed parking.
“After eight decades there is finally an opportunity to do right by the Queens community and construct an enclosed bus depot,” they wrote. “We regret that thus far the MTA has failed to embrace this opportunity and commit to a modern, environmentally friendly design with the greatest capacity possible for the Jamaica Bus Depot.”