To The Editor:
It was two years ago when we learned about the MTA study for bus service in northeast Queens. This study was championed by numerous elected officials. Two years later, the results are still a placebo designed to placate demagogues who are not regular users of the numerous public transportation alternatives that have been available for decades. Many of the recommendations from this study are either common sense, previously known or old ideas recycled.
Introduction of Limited Stop Service, Select Bus Service or Bus Rapid Transit is not a new idea. The “feasibility” of overnight service on the Q13 and Q30 was already proven. These routes had overnight service for decades. In response to a previous MTA NYCT financial crisis, this late-night service was eliminated as a cost-savings measure. All riders will get is resumption of what was once available. The saddest recommendation was for “creation of a Downtown Flushing Bus Terminal.” This proposal has been previously studied numerous times for over 50 years! At the end of the day, it all comes down to the availability of increased funding for additional transportation service in northeast Queens. Operating subsidies are required to increase the level of service and reduce the amount of time one waits for a bus on existing routes.
Capital dollars are required for purchase of additional buses, off-board fare collection equipment, real-time communications systems to notify riders of anticipated arrival of the next bus, shelters and facilities. There are no new routes being proposed coming out of this study.
People moved to neighborhoods in northeast Queens knowing that they would be living in a two-fare (bus to subway) zone with longer commutes to and from work. How many of these same public officials who promoted this study have a Metro Card and ride the system like constituents do on a daily basis?
MTA services continue to be one of the best bargains in town. Since the 1950s, the average cost of riding either the bus, subway or commuter rail has gone up at a lower rate than either the consumer price index or inflation. The Metro Card introduced in 1996 affords a free transfer between bus and subway. Prior to this, riders had to pay two full fares.
Purchasing either a weekly or monthly pass further reduces the cost per ride. Many employers offer transit checks, which pay even more of the costs.
For years, local politicians would pontificate on this issue. They claimed northeast Queens neighborhoods were a desert when it came to public transportation. As a result, residents’ only choice was to rely on automobiles.
Finding $500,000 for the “Northeast Queens Restoration Study” would have been better spent on real improvements rather than lining the pockets of consultants. These funds could have supported introduction of Limited Stops bus service on the Q12, Q13 and other routes resulting in shorter commutes to and from Flushing for riders. All riders have is a 130-page study for $500,000 followed by press conferences and news releases designed to provide free publicity for elected officials to assist them in greasing the wheels of future elections.