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Photo courtesy of Riders Alliance
Photo courtesy of Riders Alliance
Members of the Riders Alliance gathered more than 2,000 petitions in support of a select bus service plan for the Q44.

More than 2,000 people in Flushing and Jamaica reportedly signed a petition to demand improvements to the bus service along the Q44 bus route, according to a transit advocacy group.

Formed in 2012, the Riders Alliance organizes transit riders to call for better service and to influence transit funding and policy. The organization began collecting signatures for a petition meant to spur city agencies to adopt Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) along the Q44 route, specifically on Parsons Boulevard and Main Street.

The Riders Alliance will deliver the petition to the Department of Transportation (DOT), Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and elected officials in Flushing and Jamaica. The DOT is currently studying the implementation of Select Bus Service along the Q44.

Josselyn Atahualpa, the Queens community organizer for Riders Alliance, said that she, along with other Riders Alliance members, began collecting signatures for a petition last October to gauge residents’ interest in the adoption of BRT. Though some community members vocalized opposition to the plan, Atahualpa said most people want to see changes to the route along Jamaica, which was recently named New York’s  neighborhood with the longest commute.

“We support the current proposal that they released in late May,” Atahualpa said. “We just want to see it implemented quickly and on time.”

The Q44, which links Jamaica, Flushing and the Bronx, serves 44,000 riders daily. The plan would add designated bus lanes on Sutphin Boulevard, Archer Avenue and Hillside Avenue in Jamaica. Main Street between Northern Boulevard and the Horace Harding Expressway in Flushing would also receive designated bus lanes.

As a senior, I don’t drive and I can’t walk long distances,” said Jeanne Majors, who is a Jamaica resident and member of the Riders Alliance. “I often rely on buses, but I’m tired of their unreliability and how overcrowded they’ve become. Buses come late, and older buses are difficult for me to board. I want reliable service and Select Bus Service can provide that.”

The DOT is planning to hold community meetings to discuss the proposed SBS service this fall but not all residents are on board with the plan. Yvonne Reddick, district manager for Community Board 12, said the Q44 along Jamaica has a short wait time and other bus services, such as the Q4 that runs through Jamaica and Cambria Heights and the Q41 that runs through Jamaica and 164 Avenue in Howard Beach, could benefit from SBS.

“I have monitored that Q44 that comes through Jamaica,” Reddick said. “That bus is the best bus that comes through Jamaica and I said that to the MTA. The longest you may wait for that Q44 is something like 3 minutes.”

Reddick said the Q4, which runs along Merrick Boulevard, has some of the longest wait times; she blamed part of the problem on the abundance of dollar vans that speed up and down the boulevard “like we’re in the wild west.”

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