MTA will suggest Queens bus network redesign at Borough Board meeting

Natasha Saunders of Riders Alliance speaks to commuters and advocates at a March congestion pricing rally outside of the Jamaica Center subway station, a hub for Queens buses.  Eagle  file photo by Jonathan Sperling.

Natasha Saunders of Riders Alliance speaks to commuters and advocates at a March congestion pricing rally outside of the Jamaica Center subway station, a hub for Queens buses. Eagle file photo by Jonathan Sperling.

By Jonathan Sperling

To improve a stagnant bus network that struggles to serve the borough’s commuters, the MTA will present its Queens Bus Network Redesign plan at the Queens Borough Board meeting on Monday.

NYC Transit and the New York City Department of Transportation recently announced plans to take a “clean-slate look” at the borough’s bus system, which has not matched the borough’s modern growth and development. Queens’ 107 bus routes move over 700,000 weekday riders, but the buses average just 8.9 miles per hour, according to Borough President Melinda Katz’s office.

The Queens Bus Network Redesign plan presentation will be the first public meeting that discusses the initiative and will help to kickoff a year-long effort that includes numerous public workshops and other forums for obtaining ideas from borough residents.

NYC Transit intends to produce a draft redesign plan in November 2019 and a final plan in April 2020.

Buses are among the only transit option in some parts of Queens, especially the southeast portion of the borough, where commuters in St. Albans, Rosedale, Queens Village, Laurelton and other subway deserts rely on buses to take them to and from transit hubs.

“I have this cane in order to get on the bus, with the old diesel buses. They suck. I hate that,” said Jeanne Majors, a Jamaica resident who often takes the Q4, Q5 and Q84 buses down Merrick Boulevard in order to get to church. Majors attended a March rally for congestion pricing and told the Eagle that the buses she saw on the street seemed decades old.

At the same rally, Queens residents and activists told the Eagle that the Q5, which travels down Merrick Boulevard, and the Q83, which travels down Liberty Avenue, are also subject to overcrowding, delays and irregular service.

A report published by the Bus Turnaround Coalition gave more than 50 percent of city buses a “D” or “F” grade based on speed and service predictability, among other factors. The report found that the Q5, which earned a “D” grade, travels an average of 8.1 mph.

The report also found that several Queens bus routes often experience “bunching” — when a bus scheduled to arrive before the bus in front of it ends up arriving at the same time, making service redundant.

The Queens Bus Network Redesign meeting will take place at Queens Borough Hall, located at 120-55 Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens, beginning at 5:30 p.m.