As the MTA continues to hold meetings and workshops around Queens to gather feedback on the controversial new proposed bus redesign, residents at one meeting in Astoria said the new design lacks enough service to critical areas and offers unnecessary new routes.

At a meeting held Thursday by Community Board 1 in Astoria, two representatives from the MTA answered questions about the loss of decades-old routes and the new ideas behind the redesign — the first reworking in a century since the current routes were drawn along the trolley lines and private bus companies that used to serve the borough. The changes are meant to increase speed in the system and increase ridership while also connecting to existing and future accessible subway stations, according to the MTA.

The distance between the bus stops will be generally increased from 853 feet today to about 1,400 feet -- a move to shave time off the commute, said Robert Lai, the MTA assistant chief officer of service planning, at the meeting in Astoria.

"Fewer lines on the map does not mean less service," he said.

Residents were skeptical that the new plans would still deliver service -- only the two routes over the Triboro bridge and the 59th Street bridge would directly serve Manhattan in the new redesign.

"It's congestion that's slowing down traffic," not the design of the current routes, said Community Board 1 member Dominic Stiller.

Max Foley, a 13-year-old Astoria resident, said he depends on his bus route to get him to school in 15 minutes and asked why the MTA's new plan doesn't have a bus line serving the entire stretch of Northern Boulevard. "It'd be really hard for me to get to school because that's really the most direct bus route to get to my school," he said, "It seems really inconvenient to have that one pocket of Northern Boulevard where there's kind of nothing there."

One point of contention was the MTA's proposed new service between Astoria and Greenpoint and Williamsburg, with a route that traverses 21st Avenue to McGuinness Boulevard and Driggs and Bedford avenues.

"This will actually greatly benefit me. I spend a lot of time in awesome-sauce as far as that," said Mitchell Waxman, a member of the community board. "That's great for me. But just as I told the people who want to build the BQX, it's nice that you want to spend $2.7 billion for my benefit, but I don't know if this works for everybody else."

Sandi Kabins, 65, of Astoria had commuted to Williamsburg in her job as a product vendor for the Whole Foods market there, and said she never saw enough afternoon ridership to justify the new dedicated bus routes.

"Nobody wants to go to Williamsburg," she said. "During the day, we need to get to work -- we need to get to Manhattan."

"You are inadequately servicing Astoria in favor of sound bytes," Kabins added. "When you look at a blank slate it is the incorrect way to run a bus system. You have to look at existing traffic patterns."

"Ridership is down because service kind of sucks," Waxman said. "Help us help you help Queens."

The MTA's next slate of meetings this week are:


Feb. 19, 2020 from 6:00 to 8:00 PM

Queens College's Rosenthal Library, Auditorium, Room 230

65-30 Kissena Blvd, Flushing, NY 11367


Feb. 20, 2020 from 7 to 8:30 PM

Korean Community Services

203-05 32nd Ave., Bayside, NY 11361


Feb. 21, 2020 from 6:00 to 8:00 PM

St. John's University

8000 Utopia Parkway, Jamaica, NY 11439