BY THOMAS SUOZZI
Northeast Queens is already a transit desert! Now, the New York City Transit Authority’s recently proposed Queens Bus Network Redesign plan threatens to eliminate the only oasis in that desert.
This wrong-headed proposal of the MTA’s New York City Transit Authority eliminates express buses during non-peak hours, sets bus stops farther apart, and consolidates or even eliminates some routes. These changes would impact mid-day and late evening service on some routes and weekend service on other routes.
For example, the QM6, which runs from the North Shore Towers in Glen Oaks to Midtown Manhattan, would become the QMT167, running only every 20-30 minutes during morning and evening rush hours on weekdays — no buses from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., no weekends. Additionally, the plan includes the total elimination of the Q36, which runs to and from the Little Neck LIRR station through Glen Oaks, Floral Park, Bellerose and Queens Village, impacting thousands of residents … no way!
In northeast Queens, there is no subway access and limited public transportation options for those who do not drive to get to work, doctors appointments, etc. These proposed changes would greatly alter the day-to-day lives of thousands of residents.
Congestion pricing was sold by the MTA to the residents of northeast Queens as a way to generate revenue for improved public transit. The New York City Transit Authority must use congestion pricing revenues to improve service to this area and not reduce it.
These proposed changes have become a rallying cry for all in northeast Queens and on Friday, every elected official in northeast Queens came together for a joint press conference to demand community workshops and meetings so that the concerns of the residents could be heard.
First and foremost, the Transit Authority must hold multiple community bus redesign workshops in Le Havre, Bay Terrace, North Shore Towers and Glen Oaks, in addition to the ones already proposed in Bayside and Bellerose.
Secondly, the elected officials in northeast Queens, who are united in this effort, are seeking signatures on a petition which will allow residents to voice their concerns over pending changes to existing bus routes and will demonstrate the widespread dissatisfaction with the proposed bus redesign plan.
Lastly, while I have already registered my concerns in a phone call with the president of the New York City Transit Authority, Andrew Byford. We must continue to make these concerns, of both the elected officials and residents, well known to Mr. Byford and the entire New York City Transit Authority and MTA leadership.
I applaud each of the elected officials — Congresswoman Grace Meng, Senator John Liu, Senator Leroy Comrie, Assemblyman Ed Braunstein, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, Council member Barry Grodenchik and Council member Paul Vallone — for coming together for the needs of our constituents.
With all the turmoil and distractions in Washington, D.C., it is essential that we, as elected officials, remain laser-focused on the day-to-day issues that impact the residents that we represent. I will continue to work with my colleagues, solicit input from my constituents, and stay in constant communication with the MTA and the Transit Authority until our concerns are satisfied. Working together, we can improve mass transit in northeast Queens, and not harm it.
Congressman Thomas Suozzi represents the Third Congressional District in New York.