Dec. 31, 2019 By Christian Murray
The MTA has released a draft plan that revamps the entire Queens bus network in an effort to improve service.
The new plan aims to increase bus speeds, provide a better connection between Queens and the other boroughs, provide a better link to subways, and reduce commute times. The MTA draft plan redraws many bus routes, which have mostly been unchanged since they were converted from old trolley lines at the turn of the 20th century. The draft plan was released today.
The MTA kicked off the process to redesign the Queens bus network in April as part of it Fast Forward plan to improve bus service. The NYC Transit is redesigning the bus networks in every borough of New York City and started with the Staten Island Express Bus Redesign that was implemented in August 2018.
“Improving bus service is one of the pillars of our Fast Forward plan to transform every aspect of New York’s transit service…,” said MTA NYC Transit President Andy Byford in a statement. “We are very excited about this draft plan for Queens buses because it is a true reimagination of the routes that incorporates the earned knowledge of customers, our ground personnel and operations staff to create a new foundation of bus service in Queens.”
The MTA noted that the average bus speed in Queens in 2018 was 8.7 miles per hour, a 3.3 percent decrease from 2015. Bus ridership in the borough fell 5.4 percent from 2014 to 2019, from 728,872 to 689,702 average weekday riders. The on-time Performance for Queens bus routes decreased 12 percent from 2014 to 2018.
The draft plan, which reviews the entire bus network in Queens, takes a number of steps including widening the distance between bus stops as a means to speed up performance. It calls for bus stop spacing to average 1,400 Feet Apart—as opposed to the current 850.
The plan aims to improve connectivity between buses and subways—as well as other forms of public transport. Particular focus is also being placed on 21 key corridors including Queens Boulevard, Roosevelt Avenue, Broadway, Corona Avenue, Main Street and 108th Street.
The MTA has also put forward a number of new bus routes that provide better links between Queens and Brooklyn and Queens and the Bronx. The MTA also aims to increase the use of bus lanes.
The MTA produced the draft proposal after a study of the existing bus network, nine open houses, 11 meetings with civics groups and seven community boards to gather feedback on customers’ commuting patterns and itinerary suggestions. The MTA also took into consideration the results of nearly 2,000 online customer surveys specific to the Queens redesign and conducted other outreach.
The MTA is looking for the public to comment on the draft proposal and make suggestions. It aims to release a “proposed final plan” in the second quarter of 2020.
The MTA will be hosting a series of public workshops in January and February to provide customers with information on the proposals in the draft plan (see dates below). Residents will be able to ask questions and provide feedback on the proposed redesigned routes and bus stops.
The final plan will then be presented yet again to elected officials, community boards and other stakeholders for review. A public hearing will also be held.
The MTA plans to roll out the new network by 2022 after the MTA board signs off on it.