Commuters in northeast Queens are worried that bus depot changes could usher in a new year full of delayed express buses.
Ali Fadil, a transportation activist from Whitestone, said the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plans to base some QM2 and QM20 buses out of the Eastchester depot in the Bronx rather than the College Point garage would cause headaches for Queens commuters and drive up operating costs for taxpayers.
The QM2 and the QM20 buses run from Bay Terrace to midtown Manhattan.
As part of the transition, the MTA also intends to move some Bx9 buses across the East River and assign them to the College Point depot, at 128-15 28th Ave
“What happens when the traffic is backed up on the New England Thruway or there’s an accident on the Throgs Neck?” Fadil said. “This is going to harm the service reliability.”
Beginning Jan. 6, the MTA will put six buses that currently sit empty in the Eastchester depot every morning on the QM2 and QM20 routes. Conversely, the agency will move six buses that remain parked in the College Point depot every afternoon onto the Bx9 route, according to Kevin Ortiz, an MTA press representative.
“These changes will be completely invisible to the customer and will not impact their commutes in any way and will provide us with the opportunity to best maximize the use of our fleet,” Ortiz wrote in an e-mail.
He noted that the same number of buses would serve the approximately 1,159 people who ride the QM20 on weekdays and 1,960 who take the QM2.
Fadil said QM2 and QM20 drivers indicated they would be given an additional 30 minutes to get from the depot to Bay Terrace, where they make their first stops en route to midtown Manhattan. Fadil argued the longer drives would cost the city more in gas and overtime.
“That money should go to service investments ... not be going to basing buses in our neighborhood in a depot that’s near the Westchester border,” Fadil said.
The MTA does not anticipate that the transition will cost more, Ortiz said.
Jim Gannon, a press representative for Transport Workers Union Local 100, said the MTA employees’ union opposed the depot reassignments. Local 100 took the dispute to arbitration, arguing that the move violated the “pick rights” that guarantee drivers the right to choose their routes and hours by seniority.
Ultimately, the arbitrator sided with the city.
“Not sure about cost or time. We made our stand against it, now [we] just have to deal with it,” Gannon wrote in an e-mail.
Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at strangle@c