Following criticisms about the lack of bus redesign meetings for northeast Queens residents, the MTA announced it would hold additional workshops in collaboration with elected officials.
On Jan. 17, officials confirmed that the MTA scheduled two meetings in Bayside and Bellerose for Feb. 20 and 27, respectively. When the agency originally unveiled its draft plan in December, it failed to schedule any for residents east of Flushing. Residents in these areas lack train access and buses are often their only form of public transportation.
The first workshop is on Thursday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. at Korean Community Services (203-05 32nd Ave.); the second is on Thursday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. at Cross Island YMCA (238-10 Hillside Ave.)
“Overhauling Queens bus service will have a huge impact in Queens, where in most places, buses are the only form of public transportation available,” said Senator John Liu, member of the Senate Transportation Committee. “The draft plan proposes significant changes to local and express bus services in our community, and many people have already voiced their understandable dismay over service cuts.”
Liu added that the new bus plan needs to follow several guiding principles in order to be fair and effective for Queens residents who take public transportation regularly.
“In the end, the new bus plan must increase the number of residents taking buses, not drive people back to driving, and we will demand practical and common-sense revisions to the draft plan. The MTA can start with a revenue neutral approach system wide, but in Queens and especially in areas like northeast Queens where subways and other transit options don’t exist, there must be a significant net gain and additional investments in bus service, especially in light of impending congestion pricing,” Liu said.
Earlier this month, residents also complained about an element of the MTA’s draft plan which proposed cutting express bus service for many Queens riders. In response to this, officials including Liu, Councilmen Paul Vallone and Grodenchik, Congress members Grace Meng and Tom Suozzi and Assembly members Nily Rozic and Ed Braunstein, urged residents to sign a petition to the MTA and Andy Byford.
The petition stated that thousands of northeast Queens riders rely on the QM2, QM3, QM6, QM20 and QM32 express buses to get to and from Manhattan.
“Regardless of potential low ridership levels at non-rush hour times, residents of northeast Queens require reliable express buses for their everyday needs. Cutting service is denying mobility to a part of the city that is in great need of better options. This is unacceptable,” stated the petition.
Vallone said that his office gets continuous complains from constituents in northeast Queens who are concerned with the proposal and “slashes to express bus service.”
“In northeast Queens, where there is no subway access and limited public transportation options for commuters, the MTA should be increasing and improving bus service, not creating a more desolate transportation desert,” said Vallone. “I am pleased to have worked with my fellow elected officials to bring the MTA to the neighborhood for a public workshop with our northeast Queens residents, who rely on our city’s bus network every day and deserve a seat at the table. I am hopeful for revisions to this plan.”