Public transportation will soon get a little easier for many riders in northeast Queens, thanks to the restoration of weekday bus service along the former Q79 route, a vital transportation corridor that runs along Little Neck Parkway.
The route, along a hub of shopping centers and public facilities which connects to the Long Island Rail Road, served thousands of residents before it was cut in 2010 due to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s budget deficit.
The Q36 bus, which runs between Floral Park and Jamaica, will soon cover parts of the old Q79 route by extending every other bus from Jamaica Avenue to Little Neck Parkway.
“For people who live or work in Little Neck, Bellerose, Glen Oaks, Floral Park or New Hyde Park, the Q79 was the only north-south public transportation available,” said City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens), who had long been pushing the MTA to restore the service. “Restoration of service along the route will make a huge difference in their lives.”
Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) also applauded the restoration of the route, saying that many commuters had been stranded without the Q79.
“Its return means that seniors and middle-class people again have a valuable transportation option,” he said.
The Q36 extension will take effect beginning in January. It will be funded out of $29 million the MTA has allotted for service investments, which will also go to several other bus service improvements in Queens.
Other improvements will include weekend service on the Q76, which runs from Jamaica to College Point, overnight service on the Q27 to Cambria Heights via Horace Harding Expressway and extension of the Q30 to Queensborough Community College.
Several Queens elected officials and members of the local Amalgamated Transit Union gathered by a Q76 bus stop on Francis Lewis Boulevard and Hillside Avenue Monday to laud the service changes, saying they were essential for Queens residents who rely solely on public transportation and for whom subway service is limited.
“In our section of Queens, we cannot survive without bus service,” said state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside). “So it’s crucial that our constituents — seniors, students and just everyday New Yorkers going back and forth to work — have this service.”
Community Board 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece expressed frustration that routes had been cut in the first place.
“I’m sick and tired of the city of New York, every time they need to cut the budget, coming out here to Queens County and cutting our services,” he said. “This is not a luxury for us. Buses are a necessity. You cut our bus lines, our people can’t go to work. Our kids can’t go to school.”
One passerby of the press conference, upon hearing about the Q79 restoration, exclaimed, “Beautiful! That should have been done many years ago.”
Bellerose resident Henry Flax, who originally brought the idea of rerouting existing buses along Little Neck Parkway to Weprin and other elected officials, said he was happy to hear about the change.
“I think it will make people’s lives a lot easier again,” he said.
He said the reroute makes sense from a business point of view because it does not require new buses or the hiring of new drivers.
He said when the Q79 service was cut, his commute jumped to about 20 or 25 minutes from his previous 15-minute ride.
Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cn
©2012 Community News Group
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