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The Civic Scene: Residents get chance to voice complaints about buses, trains

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Members of the Senior Citizens Advisory...

By Bob Harris

The Metropolitan Transit Authority will hold its annual Senior Citizens Transit Forum at the Sunnyside Community Senior Center 43-31 39th St., Long Island City on Wednesday, April 4 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Members of the Senior Citizens Advisory Committee to the Transit Authority will present suggestions to improve the operations. Officials from the TA and the city Department of the Aging will be present, literature will be available, and a MetroCard bus will be stationed there.

SCAC has representatives from all five boroughs which meet with TA officials monthly to listen to reports and to make suggestions to improve services. The current Queens representatives are Barbara Barr from Jackson Heights, Florence Gittens from Flushing, Bob Harris from Fresh Meadows, and Glen Lloyd from Elmhurst. Patricia Dolan from Kew Gardens attends as a representative of the Queens Connections which provides bus service for the handicapped.

The suggestions which the Queens members of SCAC focus on the need for more franchise bus lines, the impact of the V Train — especially the transfer point to the G line at 23St./Eli Avenue to Court Square — the need for express bus service in northeast Queens, not to eliminate bus stops until the community has given input, the problem of riding buses and the pollution they cause, the need for new bus routes, the need for clear signs on trains so people will know if the trains are express or local, and the need for additional Guide-A-Ride buses for those in need. There was praise for an east side access from Queens.

Ella Mae Etheridge complained that bus service in southeast Queens is inadequate. There are not enough Q3 buses which take the long run along Farmers Boulevard to JFK airport. There are often so many school children using this bus that in the late afternoon she sometimes has to wait far another bus.

SCAC members suggested that more training is needed for some drivers about pulling the bus closer to the curb, “kneeling” the bus for older people, making enough announcements, and making sure people know that there are seats reserved for seniors and the disabled. Signs on buses should be larger, more service on weekends for Staten Island and Queens, the entrances are too narrow on express buses, and hand rails on new buses should be designed for people who are shorter than 5 feet. Several people were adamant that if a bus stop is to be eliminated near a hospital, the community board should be notified so an alternate plan could be developed. There has to be constant enforcement to prevent cars parking in bus stops, they said. A traffic enforcement officer riding on a bus can hop off to give a ticket, and hop back on the bus in a very short time — this would deliver a strong message.

For the subways, suggestions including painting arrows on the stairs to encourage people to walk on the right, signs should caution people to not sit on the stairs, a courtesy campaign should be started to encourage people to give up seats to seniors, equipment should be fixed so announcements can be clear, hand rails should be round so they are easier to grasp, signs should show the location of the elevator escalator, and there should be signs placed in station agent windows if the elevator or escalator is out of order before people enter the station plus a phone number so passengers can also call to tell if these are broken.

Police should be more visible, signs should indicate where there are police offices in a station if there is any, cameras should be in locations not visible to the station clerk, more benches are needed in some locations, signs should be clearer (black letters on a white background are clearer than white on black), and additional trains are needed.

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