Following efforts to redesign bus networks in Staten Island and the Bronx, the MTA announced this week that it’s moving on to Queens.
Queens has some of the busiest bus lines in the city, according to the MTA’s 2017 ridership stats, and yet its bus system hasn’t had major changes in decades—some buses apparently still “follow old trolley routes”, according to a presentation about the redesign. Among the plan’s ultimate goals are changing up redundant routes, increasing the frequency of buses, and strengthening service during off-peak hours.
According to the plan’s presentation, some of the reasons behind the redesign include commercial, institutional, and residential changes in Long Island City, Flushing, and Jamaica; slower bus speeds due to congestion (they’re running three percent slower than they did in 2015, according to the MTA); bus ridership decreasing across the five boroughs; and job growth accelerating.
“It’s imperative that New York City Transit do its part to keep up with the rapid and changing nature of growth in one of the city’s most bus-dependent boroughs,” MTA president Andy Byford said in a statement. “Bus network modernization is absolutely critical to the continued success of Queens and I look forward to being a part of it.”
The final plan for Queens is expected to be released next spring, following rounds of open houses, the release of an “Existing Conditions Report”, and a draft plan. A public meeting with borough president Melinda Katz and other officials was held on Monday, but further public meetings and online surveys will take place so community members can weigh in. Open houses will be held on May 7, May 21, and May 28 in different Queens locations.
But a redesign may not necessarily lead to happier commuters: Staten Island residents have lodged complaints about their new routes, as we previously reported, although the MTA said that bus speeds in that borough have increased by up to 12 percent following the redesign.