BY LUIS GRONDA
In the Latino community in northern Queens, transportation is one of many issues that affect residents on a daily basis.
Lack of access and convenience to trains and buses can be a problem, especially during rush hour and the weekends.
The Corona and Jackson Heights communities are mostly served by the 7 train, the only subway that makes stops in that part of the Borough. It makes regular stops at major thoroughfares such as Junction Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue, 74 Street-Broadway and Woodside-61 Street.
Buses that serve that area include the Q23, Q66 and Q72, picking up customers at major thoroughfares such as Roosevelt Avenue, Northern and Junction Boulevards.
But transportation has long been considered a problem for the area, with overcrowded buses and lack of train options besides the 7 line.
Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) said commuters in her district often have a long wait while commuting to and from work. A study by the Partnership For New York City released last year found that commuters in the City have an average commute of 48 minutes to work, the longest commute in the country.
Ferreras said the available public transportation does not totally serve the needs of the community, which is growing in population.
“The transit network is not reflective of the growing community,” she said.
Julissa Bisono, the workplace justice organizer at Make the Road New York, said they have heard many complaints about the public transit in the area and some have lost their jobs due to constant lateness.
Bisono said the long commute to work forces people to leave home earlier, thus spending less time with their families. She added that because the area is made up of mostly low-income families, many of them have to work two jobs to make ends meet and spend even more time traveling to and from their jobs.
Ferreras said she believes some or all of the buses that run through her district, specifically the Q66, should become articulated buses, which can fit more commuters. None of the buses that serve the area are currently of that variety.
An MTA spokesperson said there are no current plans to convert the Q66 to an articulated bus and it is monitoring the existing service and will adjust accordingly.
Another idea mentioned by Ferreras is turning the Willets Point/Mets Long Island Rail Road station into a full-time LIRR train. She said this will help alleviate the overcrowding on the local trains and buses and give another public transit option for commuters, even if it is a little more costly than paying for a subway ride.
“That strip should be open,” she said.
Currently, that station is only open during Mets games and the U.S. Open tennis tournament at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
A LIRR spokesman, Sal Arena, said it does not plan on converting it to a full-time station.
“Mets-Willets Point Station has always been a special events station open for Mets games, U.S. Open Tennis and other special events. The Long Island Rail Road has no plans to turn Mets-Willets Point into a regular stop on the Port Washington Branch,” he said in a statement.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @luisgronda.