BY TRONE DOWD
With Select Bus Service just two week away, transit advocacy group The Riders Alliance presented Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) with a “Bus Champion Award” for his work in getting the program off the ground.
“He continued fighting for years. so today residents in the Rockaways have access to the Q52, lines that extend into the Eastern Rockaways and now, Select Bus Service on the Q52 and Q53 lines,” Riders Alliance Community Organizer Stephanie Burgos-Veras said.
Burgos-Veras said that Select Bus Service along the Q53 and Q52 routes, which runs from the Rockaways to Woodhaven Boulevard and ends at the Queens Center Mall in Elmhurst, was an issue dear to her heart. As a college student living in Woodhaven, she said that she often experienced the unreliable service of the Q53 first-hand while traveling to her retail job at the mall.
“Select Bus Service along the Woodhaven corridor will improve the lives of riders that depend on the Q52 and Q53 to travel within the borough. Without the advocacy and leadership of Councilman Richards, riders would still be stuck on slow and unreliable buses instead of celebrating this progress,” Burgos-Veras said.
After being honored, Richards explained why he was a supporter of the SBS program.
“Credit needs to go to the 30,000 riders who actually take this bus and know how long that ride is everyday,” he say. “It’s really about our constituents who don’t have the luxury of getting into a car and going where they have to go.”
Since the proposal of the plan, some borough residents who live along the route have argued that SBS punishes drivers by prioritizing road space for buses. The councilman said that he sees it differently.
“This is just about ensuring residents in public housing, our low-income residents and anybody getting on public transit, that we can get some transit equity in New York City,” he said. “And as a resident that used to live three blocks from [Beach 54 Street] and went to school in Elmhurst, I wish I had the Q52 extension down here.”
With the expedient process of SBS, Richards hopes that the quality of life will improve for his constituents, who rely on the limited service that the MTA provides to the Southeast Queens peninsula. The councilman called it “a cheap, quick way” to help commuters without spending “billions and billions” of dollars.
“We can really put some time back into their lives,” he said. “We want you to get those extra moments with your children. We want you to get that extra study hour back. We want you to have peace of mind.”