Today’s news:

Transit report points out shortcomings in Queens

Projections show Queens will have a half−million more residents by 2030 and a new transit plan is aimed at improving the plight of both present and future straphangers in the coming decades.

It is all in what the Regional Plan Association calls “Tomorrow’s Transit — New Mobility for the Region’s Urban Core,” released last week.

Much of the proposed improvements are dependent on completion of the Second Avenue subway line and East Side Access to bring Long Island Rail Road trains into Grand Central Terminal. The report acknowledges that tunneling for the Second Avenue subway costs nearly $2 billion per mile, a formidable expense in present economic conditions.

But civic and economic leaders have suggested New York has little choice if it is to retain its leadership in economics and business. Projections have Queens gaining 500,000 more people between now and 2030, a 23 percent increase, to be topped only by 34 percent on Staten Island.

The report, which covers not only Queens but the whole city and adjacent New Jersey and Connecticut counties, explains a situation most Queens straphangers already knew.

“Sixty−five percent of the borough’s population lives beyond walking distance of a subway stop, mostly in eastern Queens,” according to the report.

The report goes on to say: “Some areas of Queens have neither express buses nor subways, including College Point east of La Guardia Airport and the southern portions of Queens Village and Rosedale.”

The RPA proposes converting the LIRR’s Atlantic Branch to transit use.

“This line originally functioned as a transit line and could again, if extended into Manhattan and connected to the Second Avenue subway,” read the report. “This would shave off at least 20 minutes from Jamaica to Lower Manhattan.

“The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has estimated this line would carry 100,000 riders a day if the Atlantic Branch were linked to the Second Avenue subway,” the report read.

The plan also envisions establishing transfer connections at two locations in Long Island City: connecting Queensboro Plaza and Queens Plaza and the E, G and V lines at Court Square.

The RPA recommended going ahead with taking over the unused third track of the LIRR from Bellerose to Hicksville to “give Brooklyn and Queens residents a transit choice to reach jobs in Nassau County, South Jamaica, East New York, Bushwick and Brownsville.”

As for more rapid bus service, the RPA recommended Bus⁄Rapid Transit service on Queens Boulevard, although the MTA is reported to have cooled to the idea as too expensive.

The MTA began BRT service in the Bronx last summer and ridership keeps rising on the new service, which involves purchasing paper tickets, which must be shown to a Transit Authority bus driver if requested with the possibility of a $100 fine for fare evasion.

The tickets are bought before boarding from sidewalk vending machines and straphangers may board at the front or rear doors. The buses travel on lanes from which all other vehicles are banned.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman at news@timesledger.com or 718−229−0300 Ext. 136.

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