BY TRONE DOWD
Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) met one-on-one with Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joe Lhota this week to bring a number of Southeast Queens transit projects and initiatives to the attention of the agency’s figurehead.
The councilman announced the meeting in his weekly newsletter on Friday. According to Miller, the two spoke about the recently implemented Freedom Ticket program, renovation of the 165th Street Bus Terminal in Jamaica, Bus Depot renovation, upgrades to the Queens Village Bus Depot and the latest on commuter van enforcement along Southeast Queens’ busiest corridors.
Although details of the conversation were light, Miller said that they “had a productive conversation.”
“I am confident that Chair Lhota will give these priorities the attention required to satisfy our fellow residents’ transportation needs in a timely manner,” he said.
For decades, Southeast Queens has struggled with limited transit options. Many residents who work outside of their neighborhood have been subject to expensive and long commutes with relief nowhere in sight. Since he was elected, Miller has advocated for what he calls the Freedom Ticket, which would allow local residents to ride the underused Long Island Rail Road train for the flat monthly fee of $215. The ticket would also include transfers to the subway and buses. The MTA is currently running a pilot program of the Freedom Ticket in Brooklyn.
The MTA allocated $267.2 million to fixing the decrepit 165th Street Bus Terminal as part of its 2015-2019 Capital Funding program. The terminal, which is more than 80 years old, has been criticized by commuters and community boards for its confusing layout and unintuitive pedestrian walkways. That same proposal allocated $28.7 million for numerous enhancements to the Queens Village Bus Depot, including air conditioning and heat ventilating.