Feb. 4, 2020 By Kristen Torres
State Sen. Michael Gianaris penned a letter to the head of the MTA on Jan. 31 concerning its draft plan to redraw the Queens bus network, joining a growing list of lawmakers who have voiced their opposition to various parts of the proposal.
In a letter addressed to MTA Chairman Patrick Foye, Gianaris pointed out three main flaws with the plan: fewer bus stops along each route; complex routes that would force riders to have to transfer buses; as well as reduced service to cultural institutions in Astoria and Long Island City.
The MTA is currently re-working all existing bus routes throughout the borough as part of the Queens Bus Network Redesign, which was first released on Dec. 31. The plan modifies some routes and replaces others with entirely new lines. A final version of the proposal is set to be released this spring.
“By rerouting or eliminating bus lines, the proposed plan could negatively impact residents who rely on buses to go to work and school, visit friends and family…or receive medical care,” Gianaris said in the letter.
Gianaris specifically pointed to the Q18 and Q39 bus lines, which under the new plan are combined into one central route—the QT80.
The Q18 and Q39 currently connect Astoria and Long Island City to Ridgewood, and although the new QT80 line would still run between Astoria and Ridgewood, the new line would make it tougher for Long Island City residents.
The new plan would force residents traveling between Ridgewood and Long Island City to make unnecessary transfers that are not required under the current network.
Since the new plan eliminates the Q18 and Q39 routes—combining them into the QT80 which ends on 27th Ave. in Astoria—riders would have to make a new transfer to reach Long Island City.
“For example, current Ridgewood-to-Long Island City riders on the Q39 will now need to transfer from the proposed QT80 to the QT60 near a highway,” Gianaris noted.
Gianaris also criticized the design for including greater distances between stops for all routes throughout the borough, which includes the proposed QT80.
“This especially hurts those who rely on bus transit as a necessity and who would be adversely affected by by additional walking and exposure to inclement weather including rain, wind, snow and cold such as seniors and parents with small or sick children,” Gianaris said.
The state senator also pointed to the elimination of the Q103 under the draft proposal, which he said would reduce access to cultural institutions such as the Noguchi Museum and Socrates Sculpture Park. The Q103 currently runs on Vernon Blvd.—the new plan largely removes service from that route.
“This was service I worked on with the MTA several years ago to increase in order to help more people visit these institutions,” Gianaris wrote. “Currently riders could access these locations via this increased service on Vernon Boulevard, but would now have to access via a route almost three quarters of a mile away on 21st Street that might be a serious challenge for some.”
Gianaris said he hopes MTA officials will re-work the proposal to include “faster, more accessible, more reliable” service.
MTA officials have said the new plan for the Queens bus network would aim to eliminate redundant bus stops—which currently exist nearly every three blocks on most bus lines in Queens.
The MTA will be hosting community workshops concerning the new bus plan in various communities through March. A full list of upcoming community meetings can be found here.