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Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

At Community Board 5’s meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 9, Ridgewood-area commuters vented their concerns over MTA’s draft plan of the Queens Bus Network Redesign.

Like the residents of Jackson Heights who recently created an online petition to protest the elimination of routes they see as vital to the neighborhood, members of the Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village communities expressed their concerns over several local lines that are being cut.

“We don’t have great public transportation in Glendale, and the one bus that goes to the express train is now being eliminated — the Q23,” said Kathy Masi.

Masi went on to suggest that the community board make a concerted effort to weigh in on the plan, and encouraged its members to show up at the district’s scheduled MTA meeting Jan. 21.

One parallel to Jackson Heights involved the residents’ fears about the loss of bus lines that demographics like seniors and people with disabilities rely on exclusively on the bus system for accessible transportation.

A criticism that has emerged from the unveiling of the redesign is that its objective seems to be to take commuters to the closest subway, presuming residents are physically able to take the that form of transit. In reality, only about a quarter of subways stations across the city have elevators.

Maryann Lottanzio, a resident of Maspeth, took the floor to state her concerns about the elimination of the Q18, a route that starts in Grand Avenue in Maspeth and travels up northwest to Astoria, hitting the 61st Avenue Woodside station.

“You can take [the Q18] to 61st, you can take an escalator. If the escalator is broken you got an elevator there,” said Lottanzio.

She pointed out that the Q18 passes several large co-ops on 65th Place inhabited by a large percentage of seniors and families, whose children take the bus to school in Astoria.

Transit Committee Chair John Maier said that the elimination of local routes like the Q18 is a trade off of the MTA’s revenue neutral approach to the redesign. In other words, when the plan increases service in one neighborhood or incorporates new destinations, it cuts service from elsewhere. He said that the Q18 should be looked at, but suggested the circuitous path might explain why it was cut.

“It wove in and out of the neighborhoods that it served and didn’t serve to get people places quickly. But you need to make sure that the service that is being provided where the service is needed,” Maier said.

“A lot of what I think we’re missing in Maspeth, Middle Village and Glendale is some of that local service is getting taken away that would take us north. I’ve already heard people very concerned about the Q47,” Maier added.

Maier said that the committee was in talks to get an MTA representative at its February meeting.

Before that happens, Ridgewood will be the MTA’s first stop on its public workshop tour around the borough aimed to share the bus proposals and collect feedback. Community Board 5’s  workshop will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 21 at the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council, 59-03 Summerfield St.

But complaints have already sprung up about the feedback session itself. A spokesperson for Councilman Robert Holden came to the meeting to say that Holden was upset the MTA is not coming to Maspeth or Middle Village to listen to their concerns as individual neighborhoods.

CB5 member Walter Sanchez, who had been communicating with the MTA representative assured the members that he got the impression that community board recommendations are going to be very important as the plan goes forward.

To view the plan, visit new.mta.info/queensbusredesign.

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