Select Bus Service battle comes to CB9

Phil McManus, who opposes SBS, advocates for the return of QueensRail—the integration of the former Long Island Rail Road Rockaway Beach Branch Line into the subway system—at Tuesday's Community Board 9 meeting.
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As the Department of Transportation gave Community Board 9 a status update on Select Bus Service at its monthly meeting, it began to dawn on community leaders that SBS on Woodhaven Boulevard is not a matter of if but of when and how.

After public testimony from nine residents, all opposed to SBS, DOT Senior Project Manager Taylor Gouge faced the board, gave her presentation and fielded questions from skeptical members.

Gouge focused on showing that the DOT is sensitive to community concerns and receptive to feedback. SBS, she said, will be implemented in a phased initiative and that the decision was made in direct response to community input.

“We will have a lot of tools to make sure the short-term project works,” Gouge said.

She summarized the chronology of the project as two phases - short-term and long-term.

Phase 1 will include street resurfacing, roadway and pedestrian safety improvements, bus lanes and transit signal priority and the installation of median bus stops along the 1.3-mile corridor. It will begin in the spring of 2017.

DOT hopes the full roll-out of SBS, which will extend past the Rockaway Boulevard-Liberty Avenue intersection deep into the Rockaway peninsula, will be shaped by the community response to the short-term project. The long-term project, which does not have a completion date, will include new and extended bus medians and additional medians at already existing bus stops along Woodhaven Boulevard.

Yet board members still felt left behind.

“The human element has been left out,” said Maria Thomson, a CB9 member and president of the Woodhaven Business Improvement District. Multiple Board members, Thomson included, also raised concerns over banning left turns along Jamaica Avenue and safety for bus riders at the new medians.

Gouge responded that the DOT has not made a final decisions on the issue and recognized that it was a significant community concern.

“This is also about how to make roadways more consistent for drivers,” Gouge said.

She mentioned that Woodhaven Boulevard suffers both from traffic choke points and speeding.

According to DOT data, at midday over 50 percent of drivers along Woodhaven Boulevard were clocked at speeds over the limit.

There were 17 pedestrian deaths along the Boulevard between 2009 and 2013. Six of the deaths were in CB9.

“This is not just about buses. This is a complete street project,” Gouge said.

Gouge cited a petition which received over 6,000 signatures in support for SBS. That claim was met with an eruption of boos from the board, who questioned whether the petitioners had explicitly voiced support for the SBS project rather than the more general claim of better bus service.

As the atmosphere became tense, Robert Marino, deputy director of Community Relations at the MTA, tried to defuse the situation.

“How is everyone tonight?” he asked.

Toward the back of the room, CB 9 member Alex Blenkinsopp leaned back in his chair.

“We’re displeased,” he said to no one in particular.

Reach reporter Gabriel Rom by e-mail at or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

Posted 12:00 am, January 18, 2016
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Reader feedback

Boulevard Improvement Group from Woodhaven says:
Go to and sign the petition opposing this misguided SBS plan. DOT and MTA are pushing ahead despite opposition and despite numerous serious problems with the plan. Community Board 9 accurately captures the sentiment in the area. If you don't know why this plan is a terrible idea, visit to find out.
Jan. 18, 2016, 11:43 am
Danny Ruscillo from Rockawayu Park, NY Queens says:
Everyone no need to argue, we should all just agree to get rid of the SBS Plan that all!
Jan. 20, 2016, 12:29 pm
Philip McManus from Queens says:
Dear Friends,

We need to organize and fight back.

Please sign and ask your family and friends to support our new petition for the people of Queens and the region.

We support more faster and safer transportation which will create more opportunities for commuters including the QueensRail, citywide ferry, bus, train, roadway expansion and improvements.

Select BS, Zero Vision and QueensWay to Separation to Nowhere is dividing commuters and communities and taking away our time, freedom, safety and prosperity.

Select Bus Service is a cunning plan to take away the QueensRail, 6 bus stops, 2 to 4 traffic lanes, reasonable speed limits, 19 left turns, parking and our money with more regulations, tickets and gridlock.

Don't settle for less with SBS.

Give us back our train! The QueensRail.

"One for all, and all for one."

Philip McManus

Queens Public Transit Committee
Faster and safer transportation will create more social, economic, recreational, and environmental opportunities.

Rockaway Beach Rail Line
Queens Public Transit
Rockaway Beach Branch

Rockaway Beach Line

Rockaway Branch Line blog
Rockaway Branch Line Mission Statement
Queens Public Transit
Jan. 23, 2016, 6:38 pm
Philip McManus from Queens says:
Dear Friends and Members,

Please tell your family and friends.

The Queens Public Transit Committee will rally, rain or shine for the QueensRail at the DOT and MTA Select Bus Service open house forums on Tuesday, May 17 from 6 to 8 p.m., at PS/MS 42 Robert Vernam School, 488 Beach 66th St, Arverne, New York 11692.

Additional rallies will follow on Saturday, May 21 at PS 65 in Ozone Park and Wednesday, May 25 at PS 306 in Woodhaven.

Stop Select Bus Service and the QueensWay!

Promote the QueensRail!

DOT plans to take away our Q 52 and Q 53 bus stops, (Beach 105, 101, 98, 86, W 5th Road and Atlantic Avenue bus stops), traffic lanes, left turns, parking, lower speed limits, move bus stops onto dangerous medians and increase unfair tickets for Queens commuters.

Rally at DOT Select Bus Service open house. Bring posters. Unite Queens with the QueensRail, Stop Select BS, give us back our train and our roadways, don't take away our bus stops or traffic lanes, stop Vision Zero Gridlock! Share the roadway, don't steal the roadway! Demand the QueensRail! Unite and get organized.
Call or text Queens Public Transit Committee at 718-679-5309.

Tell DOT, No to Select Bus Service. We need the QueensRail not DOT gimmicks.
May 15, 2016, 8:21 pm

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