Dec. 31, 2019 By Christian Murray
The MTA has released a draft plan that revamps the entire Queens bus network in an effort to improve service.
The new plan aims to increase bus speeds, provide a better connection between Queens and the other boroughs, provide a better link to subways, and reduce commute times. The MTA draft plan redraws many bus routes, which have mostly been unchanged since they were converted from old trolley lines at the turn of the 20th century. The draft plan was released today.
The MTA kicked off the process to redesign the Queens bus network in April as part of it Fast Forward plan to improve bus service. The NYC Transit is redesigning the bus networks in every borough of New York City and started with the Staten Island Express Bus Redesign that was implemented in August 2018.
“Improving bus service is one of the pillars of our Fast Forward plan to transform every aspect of New York’s transit service…,” said MTA NYC Transit President Andy Byford in a statement. “We are very excited about this draft plan for Queens buses because it is a true reimagination of the routes that incorporates the earned knowledge of customers, our ground personnel and operations staff to create a new foundation of bus service in Queens.”
The MTA noted that the average bus speed in Queens in 2018 was 8.7 miles per hour, a 3.3 percent decrease from 2015. Bus ridership in the borough fell 5.4 percent from 2014 to 2019, from 728,872 to 689,702 average weekday riders. The on-time Performance for Queens bus routes decreased 12 percent from 2014 to 2018.
The draft plan, which reviews the entire bus network in Queens, takes a number of steps including widening the distance between bus stops as a means to speed up performance. It calls for bus stop spacing to average 1,400 Feet Apart—as opposed to the current 850.
The plan aims to improve connectivity between buses and subways—as well as other forms of public transport. Particular focus is also being placed on 21 key corridors including Queens Boulevard, Roosevelt Avenue, Broadway, Corona Avenue, Main Street and 108th Street.
The MTA has also put forward a number of new bus routes that provide better links between Queens and Brooklyn and Queens and the Bronx. The MTA also aims to increase the use of bus lanes.
The MTA produced the draft proposal after a study of the existing bus network, nine open houses, 11 meetings with civics groups and seven community boards to gather feedback on customers’ commuting patterns and itinerary suggestions. The MTA also took into consideration the results of nearly 2,000 online customer surveys specific to the Queens redesign and conducted other outreach.
The MTA is looking for the public to comment on the draft proposal and make suggestions. It aims to release a “proposed final plan” in the second quarter of 2020.
The MTA will be hosting a series of public workshops in January and February to provide customers with information on the proposals in the draft plan (see dates below). Residents will be able to ask questions and provide feedback on the proposed redesigned routes and bus stops.
The final plan will then be presented yet again to elected officials, community boards and other stakeholders for review. A public hearing will also be held.
The MTA plans to roll out the new network by 2022 after the MTA board signs off on it.
There are many issues related to the MTA NYC Transit proposed Queens Bus Network Redesign Study that need to be resolved. It is interesting that this study was released on New Year’s Eve. This is an age old trick that elected officials do when they want to avoid detailed media coverage and public review. Most reporters are off and papers have only a skeleton staff on duty. Commuters, taxpayers and transit advocates are preparing to celebrate the holiday.
Funding from Congestion Pricing, which is scheduled to start January 1, 2021 is suppose to help pay for increased not reduced bus service. This was suppose to be especially true from old two fare bus to subway neighborhoods in so called transit deserts. There are alternatives such as the purchase of smaller 25, 30 and 35 foot buses to provide service on those routes with significantly fewer customers. Smaller buses can also better navigate tighter streets and cost less to operate.
(Larry Penner — transportation historian, writer and advocate who previously worked 31 years for the United States Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for billions in capital projects and programs for the MTA, NYC Transit bus and subway, Long Island Rail Road, Metro North Rail Road MTA Bus along with 30 other transit agencies in NY & NJ)..
Earth to detractors of the not-so-radical concept of buses that link up to ADA-compliant subway stops: if you’re human, you’re a single injury or illness or stroller or visiting parent or heavy package away from needing a bus and an accessible station. Your current sense of security is just that: current. It’s privilege, plain and simple.
Do I expect the MTA will ever take substantive steps toward ADA compliance? Of course not–they don’t care one whit. But to TAKE AWAY accessible transportation from where it’s already in place–that’s a new low, even for them.
Go to the scheduled workshops–err, lectures–and raise hell!
Please add more of a police presence at bus stops and in buses throughout Astoria. Its very unsafe. I am tired of being approached/harassed by homeless people and beggars at those stops.
If you think Astoria is unsafe then you are a very scared person. You should move to Antarctica where there are no other people.