This past Saturday, June 25th marked the second Anniversary for the demise of our old New York City Transit Q79 Little Neck Parkway bus. Two years ago to the day, at 6:23 p.m., right on time, my wife and I boarded the last Q79 bus departed Little Neck for its final destination on Jericho Turnpike in Floral Park. Many of my hundreds of neighbors residing in Great Neck within walking distance of the City Line periodically utilized this bus route.
Growing up in the neighborhood during the late 1960s and early 1970s, it was known back then as the Q12A. and was part of my life and that of many others. The bus would take me to Union Turnpike and after short walk, to the old Glen Oaks Movie Theater along with Mays Department Store.
A transfer to the Q46 Union Turnpike bus provided connections to the Lake Success Shopping Center with a full Sears Department Store, other businesses and the adjacent bowling alley.
Many have long forgotten that there was a time when bus drivers actually had to make change and drive all at the same time. No one dared bring any food on the bus or leave any litter behind. Air conditioned buses were just becoming a more common part of the fleet as older non-air conditioned buses were retired.
After I finished college and began commuting on the Long Island Rail Road, the Q79 provided other options. On very cold winter night or hot summer days – rather than walking up Little Neck Parkway – I would frequently take the Q79. As my train pulled into the Little Neck Station, a quick look out the window would confirm if the bus was waiting.
When the MTA introduced Metro Cards with free transfers between subway and bus, riding the Q79 became an even better bargain and become a more frequent part of my journey.
If service was suspended or seriously delayed on the Port Washington Branch, the Q79 was my little secret lifeline. I would use the Hempstead Branch Floral Park Station. A quick three block walk to Jericho Turnpike would reunite me with my good old friend the Q79.
It was always sad that residents of Floral Park practiced the NYMBY (Not In My Back Yard) philosophy and refused to grant permission to extend the Q79 to the Floral Park LIRR Station.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and its operating agency, New York City Transit always seemed to have a policy of only running the same standard 40 foot local buses on all routes. Too bad that neither would budge.
Imagine if the MTA/NYCT, like other transit agencies had purchased smaller 35, 30 or 25 foot buses. Perhaps the Village of Floral Park would have agreed to accommodate smaller buses on their streets.
With a direct connection between both the Floral Park and Little Neck LIRR Stations, there might have been a sufficient increase in ridership to justify keeping the Q79. Sadly, we will never know.
Over the past decades, I’ve witnessed many other changes to our neighborhood. On Northern Boulevard, our old Bowling Alley, the original Scobee Dinner, the mini-Sears Roebuck on Great Neck Road, Little Neck Movie Theater, Bill’s news stand by the Q12 Bus Stop, Mangels Delicatessen, the old 5 & 10 Virginia Variety, Patrick’s Pub, Villa Bianca Resturant and Bakery along with other stores have come and gone.
Walking down Northern Boulevard in the evenings, my wife and I see fewer people dining out and shopping except on Friday and Saturday nights. Years ago, we would never see any vacant storefronts. Today, there are too many from Jason Avenue in Great Neck to Marathon Parkway in Little Neck, Queens.
Many neighbors I looked up to over the decades have moved away or succumbed to old age. I’ll never forget the wisdom that the Uhls, Houstons and others passed on to me. Who knew at 59-years-old, having lived in the same neighborhood for 47 years, I would become one of the few remaining resident historians.
Our old bus stop on the corner of Little Neck Parkway and Northern Blvd. adjacent to the Chase Manhattan Bank still stands minus the Guide-A-Ride telling you when the next bus will arrive. How sad there will probably never be another trip to board.
Let us toast the Q79 and memories of good times gone by.