BY JOE MARVILLI
Funding for a study on bus service and restoration in northeast Queens was included in the 2014-2015 State budget.
On April 3, State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Hillcrest) and representatives from the office of Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) announced that $500,000 in funding has been allocated for a bus service study. The funding was secured during the budget negotiations to address the decreased public transportation options in northeast Queens, specifically in Avella’s 11th State Senate district.
The MTA will be required to immediately start a year-long study on the effects of service cuts in the area in the last five years and on how to improve bus service. The agency will also be required to seek and consider direct public participation, from sources like community boards, regarding any needed changes.
According to MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz, New York City Transit discontinued the Q14, Q79, Q75, X32, X51, Q76 Saturday service, Q26 off-peak service and Q31 weekend service in 2010. Q76 Saturday service was restored in September 2012. Q31 weekend service was restored on April 6 this year. The Q36 was extended to Little Neck Parkway, replacing the Q79.
He also mentioned that the MTA has added, enhanced, or restored service to the tune of $40 million Citywide since 2012.
“The remaining services in northeast Queens had low ridership and would have even lower ridership if they were restored,” Ortiz said. “Nevertheless, NYCT is always looking at ways to improve service throughout New York City and will conduct the study during the year to identify ways to improve service in northeast Queens.”
Avella disagreed with that assessment, saying at the press conference that his community is in need of additional public transportation.
“Northeast Queens and specifically, the 11th Senatorial District has always been underserved in terms of bus service and mass transportation options,” he said. “The study can only help in identifying those areas where we urgently need to restore bus routes or create new ones.”
Rozic backed up the senator on the issue, asking for improved service as well.
“Requiring the MTA to study how to improve bus service in northeast Queens delivers on our commitment to commuters – finding cost-effective and efficient ways to make improvements that make a dramatic difference for riders who need it most,” she said.
Once the report is complete, the MTA will be required to report their findings to the Governor, Assembly Speaker and Senate leadership for further review.
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Joey788.