School will be starting in less than a month and the stress being put on parents as a result of the loss of the Q79 bus is unconscionable. Besides being the only north-south public transportation link in our community, it is a critical bus link for our students who need it to get to school. Without it, they must walk miles or have parents take time off work each day to drive them to school.
The local elected officials who allowed this bus to expire must be held accountable. The politicians who first denied funding to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for this bus line and complained about its demise is just the type of disingenuous rhetoric that has turned voters off to politicians.
As president of Glen Oaks Village, our 3,000 families are directly affected by the loss of the Q79, as are the 2,000 families living in Deepdale Gardens and the thousands of others living nearby. The city Taxi & Limousine Commission is developing an alternative transportation option, called the Group Ride Program, that will allow livery vans to travel along the former route of the Q79.
I was instrumental in getting them to include the old Q79 bus route in the program, but this program should have been developed months ago and put into action the day the buses stopped running. It is a failure of elected officials who sat on the sidelines until the final week of bus service before writing a letter to the TLC. We deserve better.
After contacting our local civic associations, we are asking the TLC to adopt our five-point plan:
1. Include our pick-up and drop-off locations along the old route of the Q79, as these locations have been selected to provide the greatest benefit to the maximum number of people in our community.
2. Include the Floral Park Long Island Rail Road station as the natural south terminal of the route, which would extend the original Q79 bus route by half a mile.
3. Allow students and seniors to use MetroCards and transfers within the program, keeping it affordable for families and seniors.
4. The Group Ride Program must be in operation during mornings, afternoons, evenings and weekends.
5. The Group Ride Program should allow for local school pick-ups and drop-offs during morning and afternoon school hours for schools nearby the old Q79 route.
By incorporating these changes, we have an opportunity to actually improve service and serve the greatest needs of the community.
Glen Oaks Village