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Plans for bus lane on Q44 route in Kew Gardens Hills halted

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The MTA and the city Department of Transportation announced that they have canceled plans for a dedicated bus-only lane on the Q44 bus route in Kew Gardens Hills.

At a Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association’s meeting last week, DOT and MTA officials said Kew Gardens Hills was not an area targeted for dedicated bus lanes, although bus lanes may still be considered on other parts of the corridor, according to a DOT spokesman.

But plans for a Select Bus service route between downtown Flushing and Jamaica will proceed, the DOT spokesman explained, noting that the SBS will still run through Kew Gardens Hills in mixed traffic.

City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) said the agencies were looking at other options such as off-board fare collection, synchronizing lights and moving bus stops to more appropriate locations.

These options would speed up bus service without negatively affecting automobile drivers and businesses along Main Street that rely on parking for their customers, he said.

“We’re very gratified that the city and the MTA really listened to the community’s concerns and saw that putting a dedicated bus lane in Kew Gardens Hills really wasn’t the most efficient use of the streetscape,” Lancman said in an interview with TimesLedger.

State Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz (D-Flushing), U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) and state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) also praised the agencies’ decision to cancel the plans.

In January, the DOT and the MTA held a forum at Townsend Harris HS to provide more information about their proposal and get community feedback for an SBS route between Flushing and Jamaica on Main Street, Kissena and Parsons boulevards and 164th Street.

The proposal drew some support but significant opposition from area residents and civic and community leaders present at the forum, including Lancman and Simanowitz, both of whom voiced their aversion to the proposal.

Criticism stemmed from the possibility that a travel or parking lane could be eliminated to accommodate the service, adversely affecting motorists, residents and small businesses.

Last fall and winter, the DOT and the MTA went to all the communities along the Main Street corridor with a proposal for a Q44 SBS route.

At the time, the agencies stressed that even though SBS improvements such as on-street fare payment and limited stops would apply to the entire Q44 route, the DOT was still evaluating where it would make sense to put the bus lanes.

In the coming weeks, the DOT will share more details with communities along the Q44 route on the areas where bus lanes would be beneficial and how they would operate on a block-by-block basis, the DOT spokesman said.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

Posted 12:00 am, April 23, 2015
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Reader feedback

Reader from None says:
The second-to-last paragraph says that DoT was considering where to put the lanes. They still haven't released a plan of where they want to put them. They were never going to put them there anyway. It was all about the misunderstanding that SBS means bus lanes. DoT isn't "looking at" off-board fare collection, they're absolutely doing it. That is more certain than bus lanes. So I really question a headline that says the plan for bus lanes has been halted. So if I never planned on having a hamburger for lunch, and sure enough I have a taco, but my buddy thought that because my lunch was going to have lettuce and tomatoes on it that I must be buying a hamburger--Did I really halt plans to have a hamburger for lunch?
April 24, 2015, 10:37 am
Queens Citizen from Kew Gardens Hills says:

The local politicians may be boasting that they "saved the residents and the business' parking spaces, but the fact is a bus lane through KGH was never in anyone's interests. Bus traffic through KGH (Union Tpk to I495) already moves at 20MPH - what were bus lane proponents hoping to do? Have the busses do 35 or 40MPH ? The fact is, any problems the busses were having on the KGH stretch of Main Street were due to light timing. (as the 20MPH speeds otherwise, proves), left turn gridlock at Jewel, and the bottlenecks at Union Tpk and I495 which can't be rectified by bus lanes elsewhere, or at these spots. In fact, the bus lanes would make those 3 spots worse, and would accomplish nothing on the rest of the KGH Main Street stretch (already at 20MPH )

Bottom line, dedicated bus lanes surely make sense in SOME areas, but in a low density R2 with mainly 2 story private homes and a wide street that already moves 20MPH already needs no bus lane. And adding one in KGH only made sense for people who hate the automobile religiously. Scientifically it made no sense. Praise is due to the DoT for recognizing that fact.
April 24, 2015, 4:27 pm

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