Woodhaven Boulevard commuters took to social media on Wednesday afternoon to voice their frustration over crowded bus lines, deterioration and other problems along the thoroughfare.
The Riders Alliance and Transportation Alternatives organized the #FixWoodhaven event, which encouraged Queens subway and bus riders to use the hashtag on social media to call for bus rapid transit (BRT) and street improvements along the heavily-used boulevard bisecting Elmhurst, Rego Park, Middle Village, Glendale, Woodhaven and Ozone Park.
“The people who were tweeting and part of the campaign included commuters who ride the bus daily along the Woodhaven corridor. The campaign was designed to speak to elected officials so they know the importance of BRT to their communities and constituents,” she said.
Volunteers with both transit advocacy groups also met with afternoon rush-hour commuters waiting for buses at stops along Hoffman Drive near Woodhaven Boulevard in Elmhurst. In pictures posted on Twitter and Instagram, riders were shown holding up signs noting that BRT would help reduce commute times and ease congestion.
In many instances, those who vented tagged or retweeted local elected officials seeking support for their cause, including City Council Members Elizabeth Crowley and Donovan Richards and Assemblyman Mike Miller.
“The proposed layouts for Woodhaven have benefits for pedestrians also. It’ll be safer and prettier! #FixWoodhaven #VisionZero,” tweeted @SamSamuelitoo.
“I support better, faster buses! Visiting fams in the Rockaways takes too long. #fixwoodhaven @RidersNY @brtfornyc,” added Twitter user @Jslyyynnn, who attached to her tweet a photo of herself holding a sign reading, “I live in Jackson Heights and I’m tired of overcrowded buses.”
“Let’s make public transportation, more efficient and desirable to ride! @transalt #FixWoodhaven @brtfornyc,” tweeted Juan Restrepo, @juan_john_hans.
For years, drivers, pedestrians and non-drivers have experienced commuting pains while traveling along Woodhaven Boulevard, especially during rush hour periods. Buses operating on the roadway — including two limited lines, the Q52 and Q53 — are often packed door-to-door with riders and are slow because of traffic congestion. The street also has a history of vehicular accidents involving pedestrians, many of which resulted in fatalities.
The city Department of Transportation in recent years started a “Congested Corridor” study for Woodhaven Boulevard, and recommended physical changes to the road’s configuration to make it safer and easier to travel. Working with the MTA, the DOT also recommends implementing Select Bus Service, a form of BRT, along both Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards, with stations created at major intersections such as Metropolitan Avenue and Jamaica Avenue.
As the Select Bus Service plans are still being finalized, the DOT is presently creating bus-only lanes along Woodhaven Boulevard between Eliot and Metropolitan avenues as a means of speeding up bus operation. Only buses would be permitted to travel in these lanes during the morning and afternoon rush hours on weekdays.