On the eve of the secular New Year, the MTA released a map of proposed bus lines for Queens that seeks to redesign public surface transit with longer routes that span the borough by combining smaller ones. “We are very excited about this draft plan for Queens buses, because it is a true re-imagination of the routes,” said MTA NYC Transit President Andy Byford in a statement.
In central Queens, the proposal seeks to combine the Q64 route with Q10. A resident of Kew Gardens Hills would be able to reach JFK Airport by bus with the proposed QT14, continuing east on Queens Boulevard beyond the present terminus of the Q64, then turning south on Lefferts Boulevard where it would run on the Q10 route to JFK Airport. “I’m guessing they decided it was more efficient to have fewer lines than to split it and eliminate lines that are unnecessary and slow,” wrote Kew Gardens Hills resident Nathan Weinberg.
Another unusually long route would use the Forest Hills portion of the Q23 route, portions of Jewel Avenue and Main Street in Kew Gardens Hills, and then continuing east on 73rd Avenue, a major route that presently does not have buses on it.
“I like the fact that there is a second bus route that alleviates some of the current Q64 issues, overcrowding, and may help with congestion,” wrote Jeff Kohn. To the east of Springfield Boulevard, this QT87 route would continue east to Little Neck. A new bus line on 73rd Avenue appears to fill a void, but having it run to the subway via the Jewel Avenue Bridge puts it in the same crowd with other bus lines and the rush hour traffic. For many Kew Gardens Hills residents, the section of Jewel Avenue between Main Street and 108th Street is the most congested, as it connects with two highways with only one lane in each direction.
Longtime residents of Kew Gardens Hills remember another alternative to the Q64 and Q46 lines that enabled access to the subway. Prior to 2010, the Q74 ran from Queens College to the Union Turnpike-Kew Gardens station using Main Street and Vleigh Place. This weekday route was among the least used and was eliminated as a cost-cutting measure. The plan seeks to revive this route with the QT86, which would run from downtown Flushing on Main Street and Vleigh Place to the Union Turnpike station. It would then follow Queens Boulevard to Forest Hills and then turn south on Yellowstone Boulevard, terminating at Atlas Park in Glendale.
The Q23 route in Forest Hills would no longer run south of Queens Boulevard, with that portion of the route assigned to QT87 and QT86. Instead, it would continue east to Union Turnpike, running on that road to Fresh Meadows.
The plan chops up and extends bus lines that have not been altered in decades. Some of them, such as the Q58 and Q65 run on prewar routes that replaced trolley lines running between Flushing, Jamaica, and Newtown, before these municipalities were absorbed by New York City in 1898. Other bus lines on the present map date back to when Queens had private carriers such as Green Bus Lines, Triboro, and Jamaica Buses, operating buses alongside the MTA. These companies were acquired by the MTA in 2006, following a three-week strike four years earlier that suspended service on private routes.
There will be eight public hearings on these new route proposals in the next two months. Those closest to our readership area will be at Flushing Library on Wednesday, January 22, and Queens Borough Hall on Tuesday, January 28. Both of these meetings will begin at 6 p.m.
By Sergey Kadinsky