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DOT, MTA meet in Jamaica for town hall on SE Queens transit issues
Elected officials, and members of the DOT, MTA, transit police and the Taxi and Limousine Commission came out last week to listen to southeast Queens residents to figure out ways to tackle transporation issues plaguing the area and the city.
By Naeisha Rose

Elected officials, members of the city Department of Transportation, the MTA, transit police and the Taxi and Limousine Commission were on a town hall panel in Jamaica last week to discuss transportation issues in the southeast Queens area.

The DOT manages 6,000 miles of roadway, 12,000 miles of sidewalks and 800 bridges, according to Polly Trottenberg, the agency’s commissioner.

“DOT is putting together a citywide transit plan,” she said. “We wanted to come to communities like this one that has a lot of transportation challenges to get your input.”

On the DOT’s docket was fixing the Jamaica Bus Depot, which is located at 165th Street, according to Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans), who is on the Council’s Transportation Committee with Richard Donovan (D-Laurelton).

“There is $300 million in the capital budget to rebuild Jamaica Depot, which is responsible for 75 percent of the bus transportation in southeast Queens,” Miller said.

Another highlight of the event, held at the Robert Ross Family Life Center on 172-17 Linden Blvd., was the MTA’s Subway Action Plan.

The MTA wants to start to grapple with 79 percent of the problems that have been making travel difficult for straphangers in the next year. This includes track and signal maintenance, seat capacity, cleanliness, integrated communication systems and establishing a management group to monitor incidents in real time, said Simone Price, who represents the MTA for the southeast Queens area.

“We take transportation issues very seriously,” Price said. “We are here to hear your concerns and hope you will be pleased with the results.”

In the next few weeks, Phase Two plans will present ways to work on modernizing the subway system.

The other issues discussed that were lightly touched upon at the town hall were reducing grand larcenies on subways, decriminalizing low-level transit offenses, and finding better ways to enforce rules and legislation involving for-hire vehicle operators, especially with the rise in app-based transportation, according to Dianna Penetti, the chief of enforcement inspection for TLC.

“We have more for-hire vehicles with the app-based transportation,” Penetti said.

According to Venetti, there are 170,000 for-hire vehicles, but fewer than 200 taxi and limousine enforcers who make sure those operators are following the rules. More than 63,500 of these vehicles are app-based.

Soon, the number of enforcers will change.

“We are planning a new academy class for the fall and next year to increase our staff by another 100,” Penetti said.

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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