Last Tuesday, Community Board 5 hosted a joint meeting between its Public Transit Services and Transportation committees. They invited MTA officials to deliver a presentation on the challenges and goals of the redesign, which include improving reliability, bus speeds, connections and ease of use.
Erik Bird, a senior transportation planner with MTA New York City Transit (NYCT), said the more turns a bus makes, the more likely it will get stuck in traffic. To speed up buses, the new routes go on more direct paths toward train stations.
The redesign proposal also spaces out bus stops further, and will have better connections between Brooklyn and Queens.
“We’ve been taking a ‘blank slate’ approach,” Bird said. “We know most new routes look unfamiliar and will require a fresh look.”
After going through new route profiles, MTA officials said they wanted as much feedback as possible on the first iteration of their draft proposal. They insisted that there is no definitive timeline for implementation.
“That gives us both hope and a feeling that you are literally listening to people and trying to take feedback to build a better plan,” said John Maier, who chairs CB5’s Public Transit Services Committee.
Though he praised some parts of the bus network redesign, such as spacing out stops and splitting the Q58 into an express and local bus, Maier said he has heard concerns about the disappearance of many lines in the area.
He also believes the new routes are a “little too train-specific,” and that some one-seat rides in Queens will turn into multi-seat rides.
Among his concerns is that the new Queens lines don’t appear to go below Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood and Glendale, even though the community board lines go beyond that corridor.
“We rely on those ‘B’ routes,” said Maier, who lives in Ridgewood. “We do need to have you come back with the Brooklyn plan as it moves forward to talk to us about how it’s impacting members of our community.”
He also noted that CB5 is home to two bus depots that house Brooklyn buses. As a result, high-traffic thoroughfares like Fresh Pond Road and Grand Avenue are impacted by deadhead buses that don’t serve local riders.
Maier added that he also wants to see new bus access to the Ridgewood Reservoir either in the Queens or Brooklyn bus redesign proposals.
Michael Fordunski, a resident of the Maspeth Plateau, said riders in the area are currently served by the Q18 and Q67 buses. But the new route would move the Q67 stop 18 blocks away from the plateau, which he said is a “big negative” for residents.
The Q67 connects to Hunters Point, where straphangers can catch the 7 train. Fordunski said many high school and college students take that particular bus.
The Q18 currently connects to the 61st Street station in Woodside, where residents can take the 7 local or express trains, as well as the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). The new bus route would take riders to the 69th Street station, which is only served by local 7 trains.
Residents have also noted that the 69th Street station does not have an elevator.
“It just seems like we’re getting hit really hard,” Fordunski said, “and it’ll be very difficult for many commuters and students.”
The Maspeth Plateau resident suggested that the MTA look into having a bus go straight down 65th Place.
“One reason some people bought homes in that area is because buses are only a block away,” he added. “We wanted a decent commute to the city, but now we’re getting messed up.”
CB5 district manager Gary Giordano said he’s also heard that taking away the Q38 going toward the M train is “very unpopular.” The Q29 would also no longer go to Queens Center Mall, a popular shopping destination.
Finally, The Q47, which many students use, would also be scrapped in the new design.
“Those are the main ones that come to mind from me and people speaking to me about their dissatisfaction,” he said.
The MTA will continue taking feedback online, at workshops and presentations until mid-April, officials said.
They are planning another bus redesign workshop on Monday, March 9, at 6:30 p.m. at PS 153 in Maspeth. Another one will be planned in Middle Village.