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Neighbor to Neighbor: Q5 bus line service needs lots of improvement

We can experience a blizzard or drought now and then, but usually neither lasts long. Through all kinds of weather, we still receive our mail, electricity and fuel. We also have a variety of transportation available, run by well-trained folks who are customer-friendly... generally.The city bus that is accessible to me in Laurelton is the Q5. When I have meetings in Manhattan in the early evening, it is very frustrating to stand on a corner of Merrick Boulevard in the late afternoon and see a series of "Out Of Service" buses whiz by with nary a sympathetic glance at those of us who have sighed in relief as we got the first glimpse of the bus's unmistakable shape coming toward us.As disappointing as that may be, it is nothing compared to what happened one night when I was transferring from the Q17 to the Q5 at Merrick Boulevard and Archer Avenue. That is often a transfer point for me, unfortunately during rush hour. At that hour, the Transit Authority sends the vast majority of Q5 buses from the subway to Liberty Avenue instead of to Merrick Boulevard. We feel like the unwanted when at the very next stop on that same block we see no less than six Q85 and four Q4 buses pull in and out before one Q5 (often too packed to even stop) comes near us.In fact, one night I reported to 311 that the vans had come along and scooped 18 people off our Q5 line before our bus arrived. The night in question was not the kind of weather one would enjoy standing without shelter anywhere.As I got to the corner of Merrick and Archer, I was overjoyed to see a Q5 bus at the stop, loading passengers. The light turned red so that I could cross safely and I did. As I crossed, I waved when I saw the driver look in my direction. I tried to let him know that it was his Q5 bus I was hurrying toward.He was still standing with the door open as I mounted the sidewalk. It was just as I reached the door that it snapped shut and the driver pulled no more than two inches from the curb. Since I have several friends and neighbors who work with the Transit Authority, I am well aware that once a driver pulls out of a stop, that driver is not supposed to open the doors until the next stop is reached.That driver, however, looked out the door at me and shook his head, "No", and then stood there in the line of traffic ... and stood some more ... waiting and waiting for the red light to change to the green that would let him escape the unhappy glances that another lady and I were sending him.His bus, for a change, even had plenty of standing room. Unfortunately for him, he waited for the light to change so long that I had time to take out a pen, hunt for a piece of paper and write down the number of the bus. I asked the lady who stood with me if she could tell me the time. She said, "It's exactly 6:30. I hope you report him. He was just plain mean."I did. It was my first complaint against a driver, and I must admit, I felt sad doing it because he may have had a bad day or had some other reason for being out of sorts, but right is right, and what he did was not. I certainly would not want him to do that to someone else either.Most of the drivers will try to be helpful if they see a connecting bus at a transfer point, and know one or more of their passengers are trying to make that connection. They may tap, tap, tap on the horn, wave at them, or whatever friendly bus driver communication works. That kind of public relations even manages to redeem some inconsiderate drivers. Those are the drivers it gives us pleasure to report to 311 and transit.It always amazes me to find out how many passengers get on a bus, train or van and never greet or thank the person performing that very important service for them. Driving people around all day or all night is a huge responsibility. I, for one, am always grateful when I arrive where I want to go safely and I like to say "Thank you." I hope you feel the same way about that and asking for better Q5 service.

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