BY JON CRONIN
A Main Street redesign proposed by the Metropolitan Transit Authority and the City Department of Transportation as part of select bus service, will feature wider sidewalks, bus lanes and, the agencies claim, faster service when it is implemented in the fall.
SBS in other parts of the five boroughs has established “better maintenance of traffic and a slight decrease in travel time,” as well as an increase in ridership, MTA Senior Transportation Planner Pat Dougherty said during a community engagement open house at Flushing Town Hall on May 27.
The DOT and MTA held a joint presentation in which they laid out the updated plans on panels spread across the room explaining the updates on the Q44 route which services 42,000 riders every day.
Dougherty said that one third of riders on the Q44 come from the Bronx to work in Queens and that Main Street is one of the most dangerous roadways in the Borough.
He explained features that the MTA and DOT say will expedite service and create a safer environment – such as bumping out crosswalks, bus-only lanes, well lit corners and pay before boarding stations – will be decided on a case by case basis. The SBS buses will be labeled as such and busier stops will have several stations where passengers can buy tickets beforehand to cut boarding times.
Dougherty added the MTA will be getting rid of stops that are close together, “generally those a block away.”
The plan aims to preserve parking as well as allow deliveries to local merchants. He noted they may suspend parking, in the morning for curbside delivery, “to reduce double parking.”
Bus rider and Corona resident, Frederick Wells said, the bus routes need to be expanded, “There’s not enough of a link between Queens and the Bronx,” adding, “no one wants to go into Manhattan for a transfer.”
Steve Bauman, a retired civil engineer and avid bicyclist, said he is concerned about his ability to navigate Main Street on his bicycle once the exclusive bus lanes go in.
“They’ll box me in,” he stated.
Dougherty noted that there are no bike lanes on Main Street and encouraged bicyclists to stay on designated bike paths.
Members of the Riders Alliance, a grassroots organization dedicated to improving public transportation, showed up at the open house in support of SBS, stating in a press release that it would alleviate overcrowding and slow service.
The Main Street SBS plan was controversial because of additional bus lanes on the already-narrow thoroughfare. The DOT and MTA dropped plans to construct bus lanes through the Kew Gardens Hills portion of Main Street amid staunch local opposition. Bus lanes are still proposed in Jamaica and in Flushing between Northern Boulevard and Reeves Avenue.
The Queensboro Hill Civic Association, which represents residents in that area expressed opposition to the bus lanes. The civic group’s president, Don Capalbi, also spoke against the proposal at last month’s Community Board 7 meeting.