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Queens Bus Network Redesign Draft Slammed in Sunnyside

Many attendees criticized the MTA’s Queens bus network redesign draft at a public meeting with agency officials on Monday night in Sunnyside (Photo: Ryan Brady)

Feb. 4, 2020 By Ryan Brady

Adding to a borough-wide chorus, residents ripped into the MTA’s Queens bus network redesign draft proposal at a packed public forum in Sunnyside on Monday night.

Criticism ran the gamut at the meeting, which began with a presentation by agency officials about the plan. Many in the crowd called on the MTA to not ax the Q32, Q53 and Q60 routes, which — with all other existing ones in the borough — the proposal would delete.

With around 100 attending, the event was just the latest of a litany across Queens where straphangers made their opposition to the redesign known to MTA officials.

“I think it would be wise to go back to the drawing board,” Community Board 2 member Karolina Tosi said.

She had brought up how eliminating the Q60 route would deny many Sunnyside and Woodside residents a single-ride bus into Manhattan via Queens Boulevard. Under the draft redesign, those who now take the Q60 would have to transfer to another route near LaGuardia Community College to cross the East River. The existing route is especially popular when the No. 7 train is out of service.

No one on CB 2’s Transportation Committee — which the presentation was for — or anyone else in the audience said anything positive about the plan. The MTA made repeated assurances that the proposal it shared is just a draft; it expects to publish a final plan at the end of 2020’s second quarter.

“Nothing is set in stone,” MTA-New York City Transit Assistant Director of Government and Community Affairs Lucille Songhai said.

Deleting all existing routes, the agency is taking a “blank-slate” approach with the new plan to reverse a ridership decline in Queens. The borough’s proposal — which comes after redesigns were created for the Bronx and Staten Island — aims to consolidate and increase the frequency of service.

An MTA map shows how the agency’s Queens bus network redesign draft proposal would overhaul the bus routes of Sunnyside and Woodside.

The MTA began work on the redesign after accepting recommendations from Queens straphangers during a series of meetings with borough straphangers last year. But the plan’s met major backlash, a fact reflected by the borough’s delegation to the City Council declaring its opposition to the proposal last month.

Another bone of contention is the potential loss of the Q32, which utilizes much of Roosevelt Avenue on Jackson Heights-to-Penn Station route. While the MTA says the route will in parts be replaced by three proposed new ones, residents at the meeting on Monday weren’t impressed.

The Rev. Kevin Abels, pastor of St. Sebastian’s Church on Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside, said hundreds of his parishioners rely on the Q32. He predicted that the route’s elimination would “decimate our Mass attendance.”

CB 2 member Regina Shanley said the loss of the Q32 would force her to rely on Access-a-Ride, a program she called “terrible.”

“But it sounds like terrible is better than what this is going to be.”

Year-round service between Woodside and the Rockaways on the Q53 would also be eliminated under the redesign, residents lamented.

The draft redesign would change the average distance between bus stops from 850 to 1,400 feet, which critics say would create challenges for senior citizens and disabled people. According to Sunnyside resident Steve Suffet, who uses a cane to walk around, the proposed change represents “a contemptuous disregard for people with disabilities.”

Responding to the attendees, MTA Principal Transportation Planner Julian Bautista-Rojas thanked them for their input and said the agency would keep their comments in mind when it makes changes to the proposal.

The redesign draft is viewable online. Straphangers have more chances in the coming days to voice their concerns about it to the MTA at workshops throughout Queens. The agency also has an online form for submitting comments.

The Rev. Kevin Abels speaks out against the MTA’s controversial Queens bus network redesign proposal during a public meeting in Sunnyside on Monday night.

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22 Comments

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Nancy Frank

Losing the Q23, is a major mistake, this is the only way to get from one side of Forest Hills – to – the other. On Austin Street, there are 2 Senior Citizen Community Centers, with the change in stops the Senior Citizens would have to walk 1/2 a mile – TOTALLY OUTRAGEOUS!! To limit stops on Metropolitan Ave, is equally Outrageous, too many People using this bus that are Disabled and/or Senior Citizens. There are too many places where People like to go, on Metropolitan Ave. All the businesses there would close down!! Aside from this, taking a bus with a walker’s exceedingly difficult to begin with, being that there’s only one seat you can sit in without blocking the Aisle. Making the Disabled and/or Senior Citizens having to change buses at 71st & Continental, will delay everybody’s travel time, simply because it takes the Disabled and the Senior Citizens longer to get off/on the bus!! Therefore, this makes absolutely NO SENSE, AT ALL!!

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rikki

so no more b24 to greenpoint?? what is that weird turn on 38th st? That was so convenient when i had a job on Franklin, and driving the car was futile.

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Miggie Warms

This is a terrible proposal. The MTA seems to think that, because routes like the Q32 have different groups of passengers boarding and exiting from various stops along the route (which leaves the buses less crowded for certain segments of the route) that the route is “under-utilized.” Of course, the opposite is true, as this shows that the route serves several geographical segments of Queens and Manhattan and actually produces more revenue for the MTA than a single group of riders remaining on the bus for all or most of the route, as fares are paid PER PASSENGER and not per passenger mile. Also, on certain routes (especially those that begin or terminate at the 74th Street/Roosevelt Avenue bus and subway hub,) fares are often uncollected, perhaps because a free transfer is involved and the drivers realize that little or no revenue is lost when they fail to collect one of the two fares in what used to be a two-fare zone. (However, this reduces the “ridership count” for the bus route, about which the drivers are understandably unconcerned.)

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Gardens Watcher

Phil, The Q32 is essential for those who can’t climb the 3 flights of steps to get up to the 7 train platform. And when the 7 is shut down, we need to have a viable bus alternative.

More multi-story apartment buildings are being built, and the 7 is already packed now. Reducing bus service and increasing the distance between stops is not the answer.

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Nomdeplum

As a daily commuter to NYC on the q32 bus, the buses are packed. Nd there are no other options to enter manhattan for seniors as well as people on wheelchairs, using walkers and canes. We cannot climb the subway stairs??

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EP

Moving the bus stops further by 65% (from 850 to 1400 feet) is UNACCEPTABLE and a burden for all. Look, for example, at the Q47, where they want to move the stop at 73rd Street to 77th Street. It leaves those busriders at 71st and lower in a no-man’s land. PLEASE DO NOT MOVE THIS STOP. We should not be forced to walk so much further. They claim it will save 20 seconds per stop. That is baloney. Won’t there then be more people waiting at each stop? If they really want to FAST FORWARD per their motto, then they should look at what is really creating the slowdown. For example, the taxis at Roosevelt and 74th consistently and blatantly block bus traffic and intersections all around the station. Perhaps devise a taxi-free perimeter for a block around the station and enforce it! The taxi drivers don’t care about the impact they have. It can take at least 10-15 minutes at times for a bus to simply approach and get around the station. This is not right!

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Needle

These proposals are always drawn up by people who haven’t got a clue about the neighborhoods they will impact. They should move in for a couple of months and commute on local transportation if they want to understand the situation and make valid proposals that actually improve service to a neighborhood. The math doesn’t give you the full picture.

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TO Buster Phil

THIS TO PHIL REPLY
Obviously you was never was around in the morning on Roosevelt Ave when #7 train stops working and everyone is rushing to catch the Q32 . IT’s a valuable bus line for ALL the community from Jackson Heights /Woodside / Sunnyside. I hate to see this bus line eliminated.

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Phil

We should keep the Q60 but honestly what is the point of the Q32? It entirely duplicates service on the 7 line.

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Dino Pavlou

MTA is known for its corruptions. This is nothing but to cut services to the people and divert money to their overtime and retirement abuses. It is time now for the City Auditor, Mr. Scott Stringer to audit MTA and stop their abuse.

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Commentatore

Is there a summary of what they plan to do?

Also didn’t Cuomo just do a surprise visit to an MTA worksite where people were supposed to be working overtime at 3rd shift getting paid crazy overtime wages, yet, the place was empty.

I hope that MTA listens to community concerns, unlike DOT/City when they decided to just make radical changes to the roads recently.

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ABoondy

my mom takes the q32 every week for doctors appointments. she has a hard time walking and depends on the bus. i’m all for this plan if and only if every single 7 train stop gets elevators…sorry, I mean WORKING elevators, otherwise the elderly will not be able to climb those hideous 100 year old stairs. what a joke the mta is to pull out a fast one. for reference, Toronto’s subway system has escalators and or elevators at every station.

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Arlene Greenwood

I am a senior citizen living at North Shore Towers and depend on the QM6 to get me to N.Y. and back to see my grandson and his family.Please don’t isolate me from family,doctors and entertainment.

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Carol Zuar

Ridership decline is temporary. There are at least 4 new high rises under construction on Queens Blvd just between 63rd St through 72 nd.
Seriously folks, think about what ou are doing with no regard for the very near future.

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Suk Miarse

The MTA should be disbanded. Service on Surface Transport has depreciated since the old “Franchised Bus Services” were shut down.
Costs have increased exponentially and Customer Satisfaction is at an all time low. Bring back Steinway Bus and Queens Transit and all the other Franchised Businesses without multi-million dollar “Consultants” that don’t do anything for the ridership!

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Larry Penner

With the departure of NYC Transit President Andy Byford, who knows if this proposal will end up losing momentum under his successor and eventually dies over time. Consider past history. Nobody knows how much merging the city-subsidized MTA Bus Company with the New York City Transit Bus and the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority, under Governor Cuomo’s proposed MTA reorganization plan could potentially cost NYC. Take a trip back in time to understand why this three way merger might not work. Many who complain about ongoing problems with bus service including speed and frequency of service miss potential operational savings and service improvements by consolidation of duplicative routes between NYC Transit Bus 4,500 and MTA Bus 1,300 fleets which never took place. (MTA Bus created in 2005 is made up of the old NYC DOT private operator franchised municipal subsidized Liberty Lines Bronx Express, New York Bus Service, Green Bus Lines, Jamaica Buses, Triboro Coach Corporation and Command Bus companies). The same was true for reducing deadheading costs by reassigning bus routes between MTA Bus, Manattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority and NYC Transit Bus to closer garages for reduction of operating costs. Work rules and contracts between different labor unions representing employees at NYC Transit Bus, MABSTOA and MTA Bus continue preventing any changes to the status quo. NYC’s annual financial subsidy obligation to MTA Bus has increased dramatically over time rising from $199 million in Fiscal Year 2006 to $462 million in Fiscal Year 2017. It continues to grow year after year with no significant changes to the status quo. Don’t be surprised if this radical route restructuring proposal ends up significantly reduced in scope, if actually even implemented due to internal MTA institutional obstacles.

(Larry Penner — transportation historian, writer and advocate who previously worked 31 years for the United States Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for billions in capital projects and programs for the MTA, NYC Transit, Long Island Rail Road, Metro North Rail Road, MTA Bus, NYC Department of Transportation along with 30 other transit agencies in NY & NJ).
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bill

They are going to wreck the bus system in Queens with these cuts. Take a look at how many fewer stops they are planning. Hopefully Queens residents will band together to block this otherwise it will be rammed through by the end of the year.

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I NEED MY Q32 BUS

I am angered & upset with the MTA Bus Plan . HOPE it doesn’t go through . Leave our Queens buses alone.
I was at the meeting Mon night and I was not impressed with the MTA reps, they were very confusing & unprepared . Ridership on the Q32 is so packed in the morning & evening -I really like to know where did they get their numbers that ridership is down ?? This is all about the GREEN DEAL crap -MTA has no money to buy the 2million dollar buses and want us to walk a mile to get a bus to save money and cut service.
They wasting their money with the redesign plan when they just leave things alone .

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Doesn't matter you don't listen at the meeting nor here.

To all you people on the MTA board: HOW DO YOU GET AROUND? DO ANY OF YOU DEPEND ON ANY OF THESE BUSES OR ANY OF YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS? How can you take away something so valuable to us for your gain. WHICH IS WHAT? Do you expect us to ride the 7 line into NYC the way they do in China? By having the police push and beat on our legs to get in the trains like sardines! What you should do is give us bigger buses on the Q60 bus & the Q32 bus which is very much needed.

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D Bernard

Please note that the online form is for single routes only. If more than one bus change affects you, you must go back and do forms for each bus!

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Jean Reirdon

Why change these routes which have worked well for years. Come MTA haven’t you got more pressing problems than to create more. Who comes up with this stuff. Someone who does not need these bus lines. You can be sure of that.

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