The change, which eliminates the Grand Avenue and Perry Avenue stops on the south side of the Long Island Expressway, forces residents of southern Maspeth who take the bus to walk several extra blocks, and use the service road to cross the expressway, to get to the nearest stop.
Previously, the bus traveled North up 69th Street, made a left on Grand Avenue, stopping once, a right on Hamilton, stopping again, before turning back onto the Queens Midtown Expressway/Borden Avenue en route to its terminal destination in Long Island City.
Now the bus proceeds directly down Borden Avenue, cutting out the southern loop of its route below the LIE.
"It doesn't serve the people on the south side of the LIE very well," said one Maspeth woman, Cathy Bekios, echoing fears others have that the new route is unsafe.
"Now we have to walk across the service roads and get to a bus stop and stand at a narrow, dangerous, unprotected stop," said Bekios, referring to the shelter-less stop on a narrow strip of sidewalk that runs alongside the Queens Midtown Expressway, where cars routinely exceed 50 miles an hour in speed.
On February 20, Community Board 5 received a path revision plan from the MTA, CB5 papers show. An MTA letter addressed to CB5 District Manager Gary Giordano states that the two stops south of the LIE were lightly used and caused safety concerns of their own, as the bus crossed the LIE three times
The old path "requires multiple turns at signalized intersections, which subjects the service to traffic congestion and delay," the MTA wrote.
Two months later, after implementing the route changes, the MTA said the change was made "in an effort to provide faster, more reliable service through Maspeth." The MTA went on to say the change only forces residents to walk an extra 500 feet to the Q67 stop on the eastbound side of the Queens Midtown Expressway.
For many people, said Bekios, that extra tenth-of-a-mile makes a big difference. Residents have already started calling for the MTA to build a new bus stop on the south side of the expressway, and reverse the path revision.
"We're totally unprotected," said Bekios. "We want a bus stop moved back."