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TA nixes Q14 bus rerouting

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“I’m glad that the MTA pulled the...

By Chris Fuchs

The New York City Transit Authority will not extend the Q14 bus route in Whitestone, a proposal that had angered residents living within walking distance of the existing line, a spokeswoman for the agency said last week.

“I’m glad that the MTA pulled the application out at this time,” said Eugene Kelty, the chairman of Community Board 7, which covers Whitestone. But, Kelty added, he would not be surprised if the proposal, which would have taken effect in early March, were to resurface some time later.

Throughout the last month, the intersection of Seventh Avenue and 150th Street had become a focal point of the community’s angst, galvanizing Whitestone residents, civic activists and elected officials. That rhetoric became especially fiery at a Community Board 7 meeting last month, when dozens of homeowners along the proposed route, which would have sent the bus down 150th Street to Third Avenue, expressed their disquiet about the plan.

The Transit Authority first told Community Board 7 about its plans to reroute the bus line last fall, said Melissa Farley, an agency spokeswoman, but the issue was not broached until the board’s last meeting in January. There, homeowners who live along 150th Street complained that a route extension would have driven down the property value of their homes, among other things.

In the weeks to follow, one civic group, formed for the express purposes of fighting the plan, even staged a theatrical demonstration on 150th Street, wearing gas masks and holding placards denouncing the proposal. Several elected officials, including state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) and state Assemblywoman Ann Margaret Carrozza (D-Bayside), urged the Transit Authority to abandon the proposal, having received letters, phone calls and petitions from their Whitestone constituents.

“The over 1,000 residents representing approximately 450 households that voiced their opposition to the rerouting can sleep better knowing that this is finally resolved,” said Tony Avella, the chief of staff for state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing), who organized the rally.

The Transit Authority wanted to alter the route, Farley said, for two reasons: to make it easier for drivers to maneuver their buses at the end of the route, and to play to an increased ridership once a high-end condominium is built at 150th Street and Third Avenue.

“There has been development north of Seventh Avenue,” she said. “We feel that it would be an additional customer base.”

This was not the first time that the Transit Authority had considered rerouting the Q14 line, said Millicent O’Meely, who heads the transportation committee of Community Board 7.

“I don’t know whether the proposal was for the same change as it is now, but there was a proposal of some sort by the Transit Authority at that time, which was rejected by residents,” she said, referring to a proposal she said was made back in 1988.

Homeowners seemed polarized about the rerouting, depending on whether they lived on 150th Street, the proposed route, or Seventh Avenue, the existing one.

“I have no complaints,” said Rita Boyko, who has lived on Seventh Avenue for 20 years. Buses come down Boyko’s block once every half hour, she said. What is more, the bus stops directly in front of her house. But she has made do with it, she said, and the rerouting would have had little or no effect on her.

Anne Miller, however, who lives on 150th Street was initially concerned, a concern tempered by the fact that she will soon be moving to Florida.

“It doesn’t affect me, but I wouldn’t have liked it,” she said. “Nobody likes a noisy bus coming down the block.”

Reach reporter Chris Fuchs by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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