Criticism of the MTA's proposed changes to the entire bus network in Queens continues to grow, as the Queens delegation of City Council rallied outside Borough Hall in Kew Gardens on Friday to protest the service changes.
"Every pocket of Queens is against this plan," said Councilmember Donovan Richards at the rally in a video posted online. "It is simply because we see it for what it is. There was very little real community input put into this plan from the get-go."
Last week, the Queens delegation released a statement officially opposing the proposed plan, which the MTA published December 31st. Since the plan's release, residents have complained about losing service and bus lines that have existed for a century.
"The residents of Queens have voiced their serious, identifiable concerns with the bus network redesign loud and clear. The current draft cuts back service in areas where there is no access to subways, it significantly condenses the express bus routes, and it is limited by budget restrictions," the statement said.
The lawmakers are asking the MTA to "work with the Queens Delegation to amend this draft and address all of our constituents’ concerns."
The proposed changes are part of the MTA's redesign of the entire Queens bus network — 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 while also connecting to existing and future accessible subway stations, according to the MTA.
“Queens does not have the subway infrastructure of Manhattan, the Bronx or Brooklyn. Coupled with the fact that Queens has experienced a significant increase in population in recent decades, any plan that does not incorporate increases to service is destined for failure," said Councilmember Karen Koslowitz, chairwoman of the Queens Delegation, in the statement.
Despite the criticism, some transit advocates say the new redesigns are long-overdue and a sign of departing New York City Transit President Andy Byford's visionary direction.
Some of the rally attendees mournfully invoked Byford's name Friday:
The MTA has announced further community meetings around the borough after the recent outcry.
“Our citywide bus network redesign is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to redraw each borough’s bus map to make it work better and for us to engage directly with our customers for their feedback on how to improve service,” said Craig Cipriano, Acting MTA Bus Company President and Senior Vice President for Buses of NYC Transit, in a press release Friday.
Next week, the MTA will hold the following public meetings for residents to give feedback on the bus plan:
Monday February 3rd at 6 p.m.
American Legion Hall, 89-02 91st Street, Jamaica
Presentation with U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez
Monday February 3rd at 6 p.m.
Queens Community Board 2 - Transportation Committee
Sunnyside Community Services, 43-31 39th Avenue, Sunnyside
Long Island City
Tuesday February 4th from 6 to 8 p.m.
Jacob Riis Settlement, 1025 41 Avenue, Long Island City
Wednesday February 5th from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
RISE/Rockaway Waterfront Alliance 58-03 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, Far Rockaway
Thursday February 6th from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Rockaway YMCA, Community Conversation 207 Beach 73rd Street, Arverne