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Liu proposes van stop for 41st Avenue

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On Saturday mornings, 41st Avenue in downtown Flushing is often a traffic nightmare.

Hundreds of students head to Mega Academy at 133-50 41st Ave., a Chinese-language and computer school. The parents of these students, many of whom are taking college-preparatory classes, often clog the streets as they drive by to pick up their children.

At the same time, commuter vans use the street to pick up passengers, rendering chaos in the block and backing up traffic to Main Street.

On May 15, Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) toured the street with Matthew Daus, commissioner of the city Taxi and Limousine Commission, with the goal of coming up with a solution to the problem.

“You should come here on a Saturday morning,” Liu told Daus. “It’s impossible to move around here.”

Liu proposed remedying the situation by installing a commuter van stop on 41st Avenue, which would prevent the vans from double parking and tying up traffic.

“We want to make sure the service does not back the traffic up,” Liu said on his tour.

Daus said he had come to 41st Avenue to examine possible sites before and had recommended a stop to the city’s Department of Transportation, which will decide whether or not to take away metered parking spaces for the sake of drop-off and pick-up sites for the vans.

“Originally, we were going to put the stand on the corner,” said Daus, referring to the corner of 41st Avenue and Main Street.

But Liu worried that having the stand right on Main Street would cause further congestion. Instead, he suggested that the stand be placed between the two driveways leading into the Flushing 3 Municipal Parking Lot along 41st Avenue. Liu estimated that almost all of the 21 vans that serve downtown Flushing could fit between the two driveways, which are located at opposite ends of the lot.

The vans that frequent downtown Flushing cater to both Chinese and Korean passengers, taking them to Chinatown in Lower Manhattan and a Korean neighborhood in midtown Manhattan.

“Many of them serve neighborhoods that are not adequately served by New York City transit,” said Liu. “They have de facto become part of the infrastructure of the city.”

Competition between several commuter van lines, which need a TLC permit to operate, has dropped fares as of late, Liu said. The vans cost in the range of $2 to $3 per person.

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.

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