8 THE QUEENS COURIER • OCTOBER 17, 2019 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Photo by Jenna Bagcal/QNS
Eastern Queens residents weigh in on buses
BY JENNA BAGCAL
Transportation woes continued to
plague Queens residents this week, as
commuters expressed dissatisfaction with
the current system.
On Oct. 10, state Senator John Liu hosted
a bus redesign meeting in Oakland
Gardens for eastern Queens residents to
give suggestions on how to modernize
bus service and routes. Th e senator sought
to elicit community feedback before the
MTA released its initial redesign plan in
In April, the agency announced its
plans to revamp Queens buses as per
NYC Transit President Andy Byford’s Fast
Forward plan. According to the MTA,
the bus network is the largest in North
America, with more than 5,700 buses and
over 300 routes. Queens has 77 local and
30 express and SBS routes, which serve an
average of 714,000 riders every weekday.
From 2017 to 2018, the agency reported
that ridership on Queens’ 77 local
routes went down 4.2 percent from
349,112 riders to 334,451 riders. In 2017,
Comptroller Scott Stringer reported that
average bus speeds among local, express
and SBS routes in Queens clocked in at 8.1
miles per hour, which was slightly higher
than the city average of 7.4 miles per hour.
Darryl Irick, the president of MTA Bus
Operation, said that the current bus routes
originated from New York’s old trolley
network and have not evolved since.
To improve service in Queens and citywide,
Bayside resident Ben Turner suggested
an increase in the number of SBS
buses, which stop less frequently, and
“reprioritizing road space.”
“Given what’s happened on 14th Street
in Manhattan, we need more ‘bus only’
routes entirely. Especially in areas like
Kissena in Downtown Flushing, which
serves multiple bus routes, and Main
Street and other areas where it could
work,” Turner said. “I think they really
have to take a hard look at reprioritizing
road space towards mass transit and away
from single-passenger vehicles.”
Multiple residents complained about
the issue of “bunching,” where buses running
along the same route arrive one aft er
the other. Warren Schrieber, the Second
Vice Chairperson for Community Board
7, suggested that the MTA stretch out the
headway — also known as distance or
time — between two buses.
He also suggested implementing a “gap
bus,” which would be between two buses
and which the MTA could call upon in the
event of delays.
While buses were the main focus, some
residents thought that the entire transportation
network needed rehabilitation.
Bayside resident Barbara Gillespie proposed
a more “holistic” approach to transportation
“Instead of just coming up with a new
plan for the buses, I think you have to consider
other modes of transportation and
not have 10 separate plans. It should be
more of an integrated eff ort,” Gillespie said.
“If you only have a bus plan and then you
have a bike plan and then you have a whatever
other plan, and they’re not all talking
to each other, you’re gonna have a mess.”
She suggested a “smartly designed bike
lane network” so that those who wanted
to safety bike to transportation hubs could
do so, either with their own bikes or with
a system similar to Citi Bike.
In January, the city launched the Fair
Fares program, which allows low-income
New Yorkers to use buses and subways at
a discounted rate. But Councilman Barry
Grodenchik, who has been a longtime
supporter of transit equity, said that Fair
Fares should also be implemented on the
Long Island Rail Road.
“Th is year, we implemented Fair Fares
which allows people of limited means to
use the subway and use the bus system
and I think that’s a great thing. It’s a great
equalizer,” Grodenchik said. “Th e subway
system only works if you can get on.
Th e Long Island Rail Road would be an
instant game-changer for the communities
in eastern Queens, in southeastern
Queens, along with the Metro-North in
Senator John Liu and ATU 1056 President Mark Henry at the Oct. 10 bus redesign meeting in Oakland Gardens
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