Feb. 14, 2020 By Allie Griffin
Rego Park and Forest Hills residents packed a community board meeting Wednesday night to denounce the MTA’s Queens bus network redesign draft plan.
The residents decried the loss of bus stops and cuts to existing bus lines under the contentious plan that overhauls the complete bus network in the borough.
Attendees of the meeting — many of whom are seniors or disabled — said the longer walks between bus stops and the greater need for transfers between bus lines would make it nearly impossible for them to get around. The MTA plans to change the average distance between bus stops from 850 feet to 1,300 feet across Queens.
Council Member Karen Koslowitz came to the Community Board 6 meeting and called the draft plan “unacceptable.”
She took issue with the fact that riders would need to take multiple buses to reach their destination —instead of just one. For instance, the Q23 route that runs north-south through Forest Hills would be scrapped and residents would need to take two buses to get from either end of the neighborhood.
“I’m against this plan because this plan doesn’t take in the needs of my community,” Koslowitz said.
“We have elderly people who take the bus…we have disabled people and we have children who take the bus,” she added. “We don’t want to send our people on a wild goose chase.”
More than 19 percent of Forest Hills and Rego Park residents are 65 years or older, according to census data.
Several residents criticized the MTA’s changes to the Q23 and Q60 bus lines under the draft plan, which was released on Dec. 31.
The Q60 bus route — that currently runs along Queen Boulevard and over the Queensboro Bridge — would no longer go into Manhattan. The line would become the QT60 and end near the Hunters Point South ferry terminal in Long Island City, said MTA transit planner Julian Bautista-Rojas.
Board member Jean Silva, who is disabled and uses a personal mobility scooter to get around, said she takes the Q60 to get to Manhattan’s Hospital for Special Surgery, where she receives treatment.
Silva takes the Q60 bus because it drops her off nearby the hospital and because many subway stations are not ADA-accessible — but under the draft bus plan, she wouldn’t have the option.
Instead she’d have to get off the QT60 bus in Long Island City and ride across the Queensboro Bridge pedestrian pathway on her scooter — or take the subway from LIC to Manhattan and transfer to another bus in Manhattan to reach the hospital just on the other side of the bridge, she said.
Another disabled board member shared the same opinion as Silva.
“I’m disabled,” Pat Morgan said. “This will make it impossible for me to go into Manhattan easily.”
Many Forest Hills commuters at the meeting were also displeased by the MTA’s proposal to cut the existing Q23 line, which runs from East Elmhurst to Forest Hills.
The redesign splits the existing route into two separate lines — the QT11 and QT87.
To get between the northern and southern parts of Forest Hills, across Queens Boulevard, commuters would have to transfer from the QT11 to the QT87 at the Forest Hills-71st Avenue E/F/M/R station.
Instead of crossing Queens Boulevard and heading south like current Q23 buses, the QT11 heads east to Fresh Meadows.
Meanwhile the QT87 picks up the southern end of the current Q23 route, traveling from Forest Hills, south of Queens Boulevard, farther into Queens, to Little Neck — where several people at the meeting said no one from the community goes to.
The proposed QT87 route also utilizes Ascan Avenue, a private road within Forest Hills Gardens.
Several members of the private community showed up at the community board meeting to denounce a public city bus using the privately-maintained street.
“I have to assume that the Q87 routing on Ascan Avenue is an inadvertent error, is an oversight because these are private streets and private property,” said Tony Barsamian, president of the Forest Hills Gardens Corporation that oversees the community’s upkeep.
Nearly every person in the room had issues with the draft plan, while the two MTA reps presented it as a “faster, more reliable” bus network. The plan, they said, aims to create straighter bus routes, end redundant routes and cut bus stops that are too close together in order to provide faster trips for riders.
The MTA representatives repeatedly assured the packed room that they were there to gather feedback in order to make adjustments to the current draft plan.
The agency said at the time it released the draft plan that it would have a final plan by the end of the second quarter. However, the MTA representatives at the community board meeting said there is no set timeline at this point.
The draft plan and map are available online.
Q23, Q38, Q 60 are vital to this community. The new routing is terrible and not acceptable.
The loss of the Q23 bus would be disastrous for people who work in Manhattan and depend on it to go to the subway. There are also many children who take this bus to go to Russell Sage Junior High. I hope the MTA will reconsider.
I am wondering if these brilliant Civil Planners have any clue. They are circumventing the areas where the individuals who need and use the local buses the most and then have them cut through areas where they’re needed the least. The most comical revision is the one where these “professionals” do not realize that a city bus will not fit under the LIRR overpass on Ascan Ave. How can that even be a proposed route between the physical limitations and of course the private streets? I suspect there will be far more revisions before this is even close to implementation.
The basic proposed Queens plan is to offer poorer service, faster. Anybody can see that having to take two buses to make one journey is slower than one bus which goes where you need to go. Buses needing to turn corners isn’t the problem. The real thing slowing down buses beside traffic is wheel chair passengers. Average 8 minutes to load a wheel chair passenger on and 4 minutes to get them off. Two wheel chair riders in one run results in a severly late bus. Obviously we need to see that all of the wheel chair users are transported but maybe more add-a ride operations would be a better idea. GEt these bus plannews out of their limousines and onto the buses!
The people that want to make these changes don’t take buses or trains, but probably take their cars or have drivers who use city permits and can park wherever they want, and for them to make decisions for people is disgusting and unconscionable! The candidates for borough president should definitely be involved with this.
An investigation needs to be launched into what factors other than what the MTA reps claim to be the reasoning behind this non usable Queens bus redesign is. This plan benefits MTA employees who would have shorter routes, less stops to make, and longer breaks due to less frequent service. Did the MTA have to give concessions to unionized bus drivers and other employees to save costs or get the employees to agree to their new contracts? Why would the MTA use 2010 census data in their planning of these routes? Are there plans to realign bus routes with proposed real estate developers? The only person that can stop this Queens bus redesign plan from going through as it is proposed now is Cuomo. These MTA reps that hold these meetings are note takers gathering information to be shared with their legal departments to check that there will be no liabilities due to these changes, they are not taking notes that can be used to reconsider the already planned routes. Contact Cuomo with your concerns.
This whole thing is a mess and a big waste of money like most of their studies. Just leave the routes alone and focus on better timed service and maybe add a new route here or there but taking away routes that the MTA has pointed out have been around since trolley days is going to cause problems for all different segments of society and cause the mess and backlash we see now. Stop reinventing the wheel.
Please all note that there are also two different routings in Forest Hills being proposed for the QT87 per the NYCT Queens Redesign Project Interactive Map which has the QT87 route traveling straight along 71st Avenue to and from Union Tpke. to Juno Street/Ingram Street then to Ascan Avenue while the draft plan has maintained the one way northbound Woodhaven Blvd./Metropolitan Avenue routing. This must be checked with the MTA-NYCT of which routing the MTA is actually are proposing for the QT87 route. Regarding someone’s comment about the private roads in Forest Hills Gardens such as the QT87 traveling along Ascan Avenue it should be noted that there are no bus stops currently being proposed and if cars can travel down those streets why can’t buses? Also I’m sure that school buses already transverse along those streets with all of Forest Hills Gardens to and from PS101Q along 2 Russell Street in Forest Hills Gardens. The only issue I was aware of in Forest Hills Gardens was parking restrictions however if the residents there want or need a bus stop they could always request it however a bus stop should be added at Austin Street/Ascan Avenue for access to the shopping area there. With regard to the QT60 route no longer traveling into Manhattan under the MTA’s plan there will be two other bus routes QT61 & QT75 to Midtown, Manhattan with direct transfers as at a few locations for those QT60 along Queens Blvd. The only issue I see with the QT87 route is the proposed frequency of every 18 minutes to 30 minutes to be improved to every 8 to 10 minutes.
This proposed plan will make it a hardship for all commuters, young, old or disabled. To me I find it is totally unacceptable!
My friend attended the Astoria CB Transportation Committee meeting, Thurs night. The two MTA reps didn’t even take notes, so how can they claim they are considering all comments?
The Q60 MUST NOT BE CHANGED. It is the only way into Manhattan for many people. The subways are not for all and people need to get into the city. This is what makes Forest Hills desirable to live in. DON’T TAKE PEOPLE’S LIVLIHOOD!
And please Q38 will no longer run on 63rd Road to 108th St. This is a one way street. We have to do our shopping on 63rd Rd too. To get QM11 – Wall St. Will have to walk to Queens Blvd. will no longer go around Downtown Loop. Last stop will on Broad St!! Buses will run every hour. No service in Lefrak.
The Q23 is vital to the community. Its called Forest ‘Hills’ for a reason. It’s not just extra walking distances, up up or down hills. Bad idea to cut Q23!