Add state Senator Michael Gianaris to the growing list of elected officials who are calling on the MTA to go back to the drawing board on proposed redesign of the Queens bus network.
In a letter to MTA Chairman Patrick Foye, Gianaris called on the agency to focus on three main issues in the proposal: accessibility problems, difficult transfers, and lack of access to the cultural institutions in Astoria and Long Island City.
“Queens riders depend on the reliability of our buses to get around,” Gianaris said. “Redesigning the system cannot be a code for cuts and greater inconvenience to thousands of riders.”
Specifically, Gianaris wrote he had particular concern for riders of the Q18 and Q19 buses, which connect Astoria, Long Island City and Ridgewood. He said the proposed QT80 combines the routes but reportedly increases the wait time and extends the distance between bus stops.
“In fact, some people are concerned that under the redesign plan, they would be forced to walk 30 minutes or more to the closest bus stop when currently there is one across the street from their homes,” Gianaris wrote.
He said the plan appears to require transfers in order to travel between two Queens neighborhoods when it is not currently necessary and forces riders to travel significantly between transfer points instead of them being intuitively connected. Gianaris wrote that this hurts those who rely on bus transit as a necessity and who would be adversely affected by additional walking and exposure to inclement weather.
“For example, current Ridgewood-to-Long Island City riders on the Q39 will now need to transfer from the proposed QT80 to the QT60 near a highway,” Gianaris noted.
And finally, Gianaris wrote of his concerns that under the proposed plan, the Q103 would be eliminated, reducing access to a number of cultural institutions including the Noguchi Museum and Socrates Sculpture Park.
“This was service I worked on with the MTA several years ago to increase in order to help more people visit these institutions,” Gianaris wrote. “Currently riders could access these locations via this increased service on Vernon Boulevard, but would now have to access via a route almost three quarters of a mile away on 21st Street that might be a serious challenge for some,” Gianaris noted. “Surface transportation options should be expanded, faster, more accessible, more reliable, move more people and connect to more places of interest in order to thrust Queens into the future of transportation.”
Gianaris concluded the letter to Foye saying he hoped the proposed plan would evolve to the benefit of concerned riders and that their voices would be heard.
“I urge the MTA to work on these major issues and help improve buses for everyone in our neighborhoods,” Gianaris said.
QNS reached out to the MTA and is awaiting a response. To view the entire plan and see the schedule of public workshops and presentations the MTA is hosting as public outreach visit their website here.