By Jonathan Sperling
The lack of weekend service on a Jamaica-St. Albans bus route has Southeastern Queens residents urging the Metropolitan Transit Authority to extend bus service for the sake of older community members.
St. Albans resident Danielle Brodnax told the Eagle that she has “hit a wall” when it comes to pushing New York City Transit President Andy Byford to restore weekend service on the Q42, which shuttles riders from the Jamaica Center subway station on Archer Avenue to Sayres Avenue and 180th Street in St. Albans. She’s even gone so far as to launch a letter campaign that saw hundreds of Q42 riders ask Byford to restore the Q42’s weekend service, to no avail.
“The main issue is that there are no other buses that run through the neighborhood where the Q42 goes. The people along that route are literally stuck in the neighborhood,” said Brodnax, a member of The Shiloh Baptist Church of Jamaica on 106th Avenue.
Brodnax explained that the elderly members of the church’s congregation have a difficult time attending the church and even leaving their homes on the weekend, as the Q42 is the only bus that services the immediate area. The next closest bus is the Q83, which runs blocks away via Liberty Avenue seven days a week.
Brodnax added that she and longtime St. Albans residents also feel limited by the Q42’s lack of late night service. During the week, the last scheduled Q42 departs Jamaica Center at 8 p.m., meaning that those who work in Manhattan must race to get home.
“If you get off at 6 p.m. and you have all the subway issues, you can’t always make it at 8 o’clock,” Brodnax said.
Over the years, cost-cutting within the MTA has led to a reduction in bus service across the city, including the Q42. In 2010, the MTA completely discontinued five Queens bus routes amid an $800 million budget deficit and eliminated off-peak service from the Q26 and Q42. The most up-to-date MTA bus schedule states that Q42 riders can expect to wait as long as 30 minutes between buses during the midmorning and midafternoon hours.
But the movement to restore the Q42 back to its former glory dates back well before the 2010s. Southeast Queens locals also fought for weekend service on the Q42 in the early 2000s, citing accessibility and safety concerns. At that time, the MTA defended its decision to cut Q42 service based on the route’s low ridership.
“Although we will continue to monitor the Q42, at this time, we still feel that it would not be economically viable to bring the service back,” MTA spokesperson Deidre Parker told the Queens Chronicle at the time. “We don’t feel it would attract enough weekend and holiday riders to make it feasible.”
Ridership data seems back this up. A profile of bus lines conducted by City Comptroller Scott Stringer recorded that the Q42 carried 1,195 riders on an average weekday in 2016, one of the lowest weekday ridership levels of any Queens bus route. However, other low-ridership bus routes in Queens, such as the Q103, do offer weekend service. In addition, ridership on the Q42 increased from an average of 912 weekday riders in 2011 to its 2016 rate, according to the report.
When the Q42 does actually run, it does so relatively well, according to TransitCenter. The agency awarded the Q42 “A” grades in both on-time performance and bunching on its route report card. The bus received an “D’ in the “average speed,” category, however.