MTA representatives hear residents’ concerns regarding Queens Bus Network Redesign during virtual workshop

MTA Queens Bus Network Redesign
The MTA is hosting a series of community workshops designed to incorporate feedback regarding the Queens Bus Network Redesign. (Photo by MTA)

Residents of Community District 5 heard a local breakdown of the new Queens Bus Network Redesign, with some locals expressing their concerns over the proposed plan during Wednesday night’s virtual workshop hosted by the MTA.

The May 4 workshop is part of the MTA’s three-month-long public feedback period before the agency finalizing the proposal. 

The MTA released a new draft plan for the Queens bus network in March after halting the 2019 project at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The revision offers a total of 85 routes for the borough, with 20 new routes and other extensions, shortenings and consolidations to improve efficiency; there are currently 82 bus routes in Queens. The plan will take away a total of 1,685 stops.

In an effort to shorten the commuting time, the MTA wants to space stops further apart, from about 850 feet to 1,400 feet. This could save 20 seconds of travel per stop, according to officials.

The new bus route is focused on reliable service and faster travel, according to the MTA representatives presenting the plan during Wednesday night’s virtual workshop. However, some residents who live in the district — which covers Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth — argued that some of the adjustments will completely upend their commute.  

One resident, Melissa Ferrara, mentioned that she chose to send her kids to McClancy Memorial High School in Elmhurst because the Q47 provides a simple commute with no transfers.

“Rerouting this will cause them to take two to three buses, which will add tremendously to their commute,” Ferrara said. 

The proposed Q47 routing would be realigned at its southern end to serve 69th Street in Maspeth instead of 80th Street. It would also terminate at Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road, serving the M Train at the Middle Village Station.

MTA representative Ryan Zatlin said that some proposed bus routes will deviate from typical routes and make “specialized school trips.”

“This proposal to realign the route to 69th Street was around our strategies of straightening routes and providing direct connections, in this case to the M Train and Metropolitan Avenue,” Zatlin said. “However, the proposal may not satisfy the needs of everyone, and that’s what we wanted to hear today.”

Another resident reiterated this concern, saying that the proposed plan for Q47 simply “does not make any sense.”

“It is neither more efficient, or direct, in fact it shows the opposite on the proposed plan,” the resident said. “The proposed MTA plan offers an alternative of multiple buses and transfers. I do not see how that is more efficient or direct. It is increasing the transit time significantly.”

Daniel Randall, another MTA representative, reiterated that the proposal is not final and encourages all criticisms and comments. 

“None of this is final. All this feedback is very useful; you know your communities better than we do,” Randall said.  “The fact that you’re naming economic institutions, schools and local infrastructure — that’s really helpful, because that will inform the next phase of this plan.”

The individual local route profiles in the Community District 5 — consisting of Ridgewood, Maspeth, Middle Village, Glendale, Fresh Pond and Liberty Park— can be found at the MTA website. 

The MTA speakers also stressed that even though some routes show that the a portion will terminate, often other bus lines will take over that area. For example, Q39 — which connects Astoria and Maspeth — will discontinue connections on its southern segment and be swapped with the Q67, starting at Long Island City and ending in Ridgewood.

According to the MTA, this bus proposal will increase access to 38.5% more jobs and 21% more residents in Queens. Nearly 52% of Queens residents rely on public transit for daily commutes and at least 11% commute primarily by bus. According to the city’s comptroller, the MTA buses are the slowest in the nation and lost 100 million passenger trips since 2008.

The MTA has already kicked off implementing the bus redesign, starting with the Bronx, which will see the new bus system this summer. The next virtual workshop will be held Thursday, May 5, for Community District 6. The public can register for any upcoming community workshops on a google form provided on the MTA website.