No change for controversial Q34 bus route: MTA

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The Metropolitan Transit Authority will not be changing the route of a bus that residents say is causing headaches on their narrow, two-way stretch of 25th Avenue in Whitestone, according to spokesman Charles Seaton.

Former City Councilman Tony Avella took a trip Friday afternoon to the street to witness the havoc wreaked by the rerouting in July of the Q34 bus so it runs through residents’ once-quiet, parkside neighborhood.

Avella and about a dozen neighbors watched as three buses sat through long layovers at the route’s terminus at the intersection of 149th Street and 25th Avenue and cringed as smaller vehicles were unable to pass and forced to back up until they found a spot to pull aside whenever the buses barrelled down the avenue.

After seeing the way the buses had taken over the street and turned it into what many residents call a serious safety problem for park-going children, Avella walked down a couple of wider streets in the vicinity and saw that the line needs to be moved or changed again.

“It was important to have the on-site meeting with the residents and see exactly what they were talking about,” he said. “Although the street is two-way, when the bus goes down it, the traffic can’t get through because it is too narrow.”

But when he reached out to the MTA earlier this week to ask them to revisit the site, he said the agency’s response was cold to his and residents’ concerns. Seaton corroborated that account Tuesday evening, saying the MTA will not return to the issue.

“We looked at options when we were out there and there were not very many of them. The one we chose is the only viable option for a termination point for this bus,” Seaton said. “The councilman asked us to look at the original location because he didn’t think it was a good location and he was absolutely right.”

Avella, currently running for state Senate, was the go-to official for area residents because while he was councilman he was able to get the MTA to move the route from Willets Point Boulevard to 25th Avenue after residents of the former complained about the negative impact of buses on their road.

Avella said he will not stop working to get the route changed once more. He plans to hold a news conference within the next two weeks to “embarrass” the MTA into acting.

“The MTA has refused to do an on-site meeting with me and the residents, saying that they looked at the issue, they made the change and that’s it. I find that unacceptab­le,” Avella said. “Refusing to discuss it at all is unacceptable for an agency that is supposed to be responsive to the public. ... I don’t take no for an answer unless it’s the right answer.”

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

Updated 5:50 pm, October 10, 2011
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