Tag Archives: Transportation Alternatives

Sunnyside launches borough’s first ‘Bike Friendly Business District’


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer's Office

The bicycle wheels are going round and round in Sunnyside.

On Saturday, the neighborhood became Queens’ first “Bike Friendly Business District.”

A Bike Friendly Business District is a system of businesses, cultural institutions, and community organizations dedicated to boosting safe bicycling, according to Transportation Alternatives.

The advocacy organization has established Bike Friendly Business Districts in the East Village, Lower East Side and along Atlantic Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn.

“The launch of Sunnyside’s very own Bike Friendly Business District is an opportunity for our neighborhood to showcase its diversity as well as its eclectic mix of shops, restaurants and cafes,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who helped launch the district with Transportation Alternatives, local business owners, cyclists and pedestrians. “Cyclists should come out to Sunnyside and shop at the over 70 participating businesses. As ridership climbs in our city, and the cycling infrastructure grows here in western Queens, Sunnyside hopes to capitalize by highlighting all we have to offer.”

Over 70 local businesses who support safer conditions for both cyclist and pedestrians will offer special commercial discount to members of Transportation Alternatives.

The business owners are looking to transform Queens Boulevard to include safe spaces for pedestrians, protected lanes for cyclists and dedicate lanes for buses.

“Designating Sunnyside as a Bike Friendly Business District means that we’re committed to making the neighborhood safe, accessible and fun for everyone,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director of the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District.

For a map of the Bike Friendly Business District and participating local businesses, click here.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Annual Tour de Queens draws more than 1,200 riders


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy Transportation Alternatives


More than 1,200 bicyclists from around the city participated in the 7th Annual Tour de Queens, a 20-mile ride that travels through several neighborhoods in the borough.

The annual ride on Sunday by Transportation Alternatives began in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, in the plaza between the Unisphere and the Queens Museum, and took cyclists of all ages through East Flushing, Murrary Hill, Auburndale, Bayside, Bay Terrace, Beechhurst and Whitestone.

While the event bears a resemblance in name to the rigid Tour de France biking competition, the Tour de Queens is not a race. Participants rode through streets at a leisurely pace with the NYPD and volunteers from Transportation Alternatives acting as safety marshals.

Proceeds from the event will go toward advocacy efforts to enhance public transportation and make the streets safer for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Local leaders, advocates call for public’s help to find fatal LIC hit-and-run driver


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Kumar Ragunath was on his way to start the second day at his new job at the Holiday Inn in Long Island City, but never made it.

The 64-year-old grandfather was the victim of a fatal hit-and-run on March 7 after being struck on Northern Boulevard and 40th Road. Police found Ragunath at 10:25 p.m. unconscious and unresponsive with severe head trauma and a broken leg. He was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he died the following day from his injuries.

Now, the Long Island City community is asking for the public’s help in finding the driver, who fled the scene in a dark colored Chevy Blazer.

“Kumar was a grandfather, he was a father, he left a family broken and grieving and that happens every 30 hours in this city,” said Juan Martinez, general counsel and legislative director of Transportation Alternatives.

Street safety advocates, elected officials and local leaders gathered Friday morning to call on the public to help track down the driver of the hit-and-run and also to emphasize the need of more speed and red light cameras on borough streets.

“We are here as a community to say never again and as we have pledged, every single time there is a serious injury and fatality to a pedestrian or cyclists we are going to speak out,” Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer said. “We are determined people, determined to make every single street safe”

Last month, four people were hit by a driver while they were waiting for a bus on Northern Boulevard and 48th Street. In December, 8-year-old Noshat Nahian was fatally struck on his way to school at a Northern Boulevard intersection in Woodside.

“We need to change the laws,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris, who introduced a bill in the Senate, which would charge drivers who continue to drive without a valid license and are in an accident that causes serious injury or death with vehicular assault. “We’re going to keep up the fight in the state legislature to make sure that New York City gets the attention it deserves, the safety it deserves.”

Van Bramer also added that Northern Boulevard is one of the deadliest roadways in Queens and he hopes it will be included as part of the first 50 thoroughfares to be focused on in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative.

“Northern Boulevard screams for inclusion in Vision Zero,” he said.

Earlier this week Borough President Melinda Katz announced that the Borough Board had approved a package of expense and capital budget priorities that it wants included in the city’s budget for Fiscal Year 2015.

One of the priorities is improving traffic and pedestrian safety in Queens through increasing the number of Slow Zones, installing more pedestrian countdown signals and speed cameras, and increasing police presence.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Four Queens streets among region’s most dangerous for pedestrians: report


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

As Mayor Bill de Blasio and other local leaders push to lower traffic deaths, a new report has identified four Queens roadways as some of the most dangerous  for pedestrians in downstate New York.

The analysis, from the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a nonprofit policy watchdog organization, found that from 2010 to 2012, Woodhaven Boulevard had the most pedestrian deaths with eight fatalities.

It was ranked sixth overall out of 12 counties in downstate New York and the second worst in the city, behind Broadway in Manhattan.

Tied with the 14th most deaths were Union Turnpike, Queens Boulevard and Northern Boulevard, which had five fatalities each.

Union Turnpike and Queens Boulevard, nicknamed the “Boulevard of Death,” were new to the list this year.

Over the weekend four pedestrians, including a 7-year-old girl, were struck in a hit-and-run at a bus stop on Northern Boulevard and 48th Street.

An 8-year-old Woodside boy was killed on his way to school in December when a truck driver, who was operating his vehicle on a suspended license, hit him at the intersection of 61st Street and Northern Boulevard.

On Jan. 15, with the child’s family at his side, de Blasio launched his Vision Zero initiative at the boy’s school.

The mayor and his administration is launching an interagency working group, together with the NYPDDepartment of TransportationDepartment of Health and Mental Hygiene and Taxi & Limousine Commission, to implement the plan, which aims to reduce traffic fatalities to zero within the next 10 years.

Nearly 60 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred on arterial roadways, multi-lane roads that often have speed limits of 40 mph or more and little pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, according to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign analysis.

“These findings make it clear once again that we need to redesign our most dangerous arterial corridors,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of advocacy group Transportation Alternatives. “We can save lives by building complete streets with protected bike lanes, wider sidewalks and pedestrian safety islands.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Star of Queens: Jessame Hannus, Transportation Alternatives Queens Activist Committee co-chair; Biking Public Project co-founder


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

DSC_0408

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Jessame Hannus is the co-chair of Transportation Alternatives (TA) Queens Activist Committee and a co-founder of the Biking Public Project.

BACKGROUND: By night Hannus is an activist, but by day she works as an insurance broker. “I have no training in urban planning, but have long been fascinated with the correlation between planning community, what makes a healthy neighborhood or shopping district, and how environment contributes to that. I grew up in a fairly suburban community with the amazing good fortune to have free public transportation and moved from there to Los Angeles and then New York,” said Hannus. “I have never actually owned a car! Even in LA I took the city bus.”

FAVORITE MEMORY: “Getting involved with TA Queens Committee really changed my life. I got to know a truly phenomenal community of caring and committed people who I now call friends,” said Hannus. Being part of the committee has allowed Hannus to be empowered to become a better public speaker and organizer.

One of Hannus’ favorite events was the “Around the World in Dumplings” ride she led last January. During the ride the group sampled cuisine from eight different countries in a seven-mile ride, and each stop Hannus gave the group some information about ongoing activism in the immediate neighborhood. “I loved being able to share my love of food, the culture of Queens and spread the word about community involvement in a way that was fun,” she said.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: According to Hannus, the biggest challenge with complete streets advocating in Queens is explaining the concept to those who are not looped in to the urban planning community. “Time and time again I encounter people who cannot envision a way things could be better. It can be disheartening and discouraging, so I can only imagine how the DOT [Department of Transportation] and City Planning feel when they encounter this sentiment time and time again when presenting their proposals to community,” said Hannus.

INSPIRATION: Living in many neighborhoods in New York City, Hannus encountered a whole new set of transportation challenges when she moved to Rego Park. “Sandwiched between Woodhaven and Queens Boulevard, I quickly discovered that finding safe bike routes would be very difficult. I found TA because I was looking for people to ride with to help me navigate this confusing and dangerous streetscape.”

Then, after a number of years involved in the advocacy, a friend of Hannus, spurred by the lack of representation of minorities and working cyclists in the advocacy movement, started the idea for a group to address that lack. The Biking Public was created.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Pols call for law change after driver with suspended license fatally strikes Woodside boy


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

BY CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND ANGY ALTAMIRANO

Local elected officials are calling for a change in the law to prevent another child, like 8-year-old Noshat Nahian, from losing their life.

Noshat was crossing the street with his 11-year-old sister on the way to school at P.S. 152 in Woodside around 8 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 20 when a tractor trailer traveling southbound on 61st Street made a left turn onto Northern Boulevard, striking him with its rear tires, police said. He was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The driver, Mauricio Osorio-Palominos, 51, of Newark, N.J., who remained on the scene of the accident, has been charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of motor vehicle and operating vehicle in violation of safety rules, police said.

Osorio-Palominos was driving with a suspended license with multiple violations on his record during the accident, according to State Senator Michael Gianaris.

In response, Gianaris gathered with local officials, residents and advocacy groups at the site of the accident Monday to introduce legislation that would make it a felony if drivers with suspended licenses either seriously injure or kill someone with their vehicle. Under current law, a driver like Osorio-Palominos could be charged with a misdemeanor.

“The law needs to get tougher,” said Gianaris. “Those who have suspended licenses are twice as likely to kill somebody or injure somebody, or twice as likely to have major accidents, the law has to catch up with the data, we just need to get these people off the streets.”

Gianaris has also proposed the immediate impoundment of a vehicle’s license plate if it were being operated by someone with a suspended license.

The new bill will be co-sponsored by Senators Toby Ann Stavisky and Jose Peralta and also supported by Assemblymember Michael Den Dekker, Congressmember Joseph Crowley and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

“I have an 8-year-old son and it could have been my child, it could have been my son that was hit that Friday morning,” said Peralta. “And we need to send a loud message not only to the city but to anyone who does this, who rides without a license, that this is not going to be acceptable.”

Advocate groups like Transportation Alternatives, Make Queens Safer and Woodside on the Move, are also looking to implement other safety measures like crossing guards, stalled green lights and much more.

“None of this should of happen, all of this could have been prevented,” said Van Bramer. “This school has been asking for a crossing guard at this location for months. [It’s] absolutely disgraceful that the administration did not provide the crossing guard when it was requested, when it was clearly needed. Anybody who has been on this street for more than five minutes knows that this requires a crossing guard.”

Advocacy group Make Queens Safer organized a traffic safety memorial and vigil at 61st Street and Northern Boulevard Sunday where Noshat’s family and hundreds of residents gathered to remember the 8-year-old and other victims of traffic fatalities.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Local advocates march for Queens Boulevard safety improvements


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Updated, 5:22 p.m

A group of local residents want to make the “Boulevard of Death” a thing of the past.

Regardless of the snow, members of Transportation Alternatives’ (T.A.) Queens Activist Committee and residents gathered Saturday to march down Queens Boulevard during the “Winter Wander” Rally to call for a safer thoroughfare.

The group of advocates, who began the event at New Life Fellowship Church in Elmhurst, spoke about the Zero on Queens Boulevard campaign, calling for a redesign of the strip with pedestrian safety improvements, dedicated lanes for Select Bus Service (SBS) and protected bike lanes.

The snowy march served as the first step in letting people know what they can do to change the busy corridor.

“We’ve been trying to build community support for the city to re-envision Queens Boulevard,” said Jessame Hannus, co-chair of T.A.’s Queens Activist Committee, who carried a sign that read “30 mph” to remind drivers of the speed limit. “We just want to make it clear that this is a neighborhood street and we are all neighbors.”

Hannus said even though many accidents happen on the boulevard, the community just ignores them because they believe it is normal.

According to a “Queens Blvd. Crash Data” map by T.A., there have been 890 pedestrian injuries, 17 pedestrian fatalities, 205 cyclist injuries and 2 cyclist fatalities between 2002 to 2011 on Queens Boulevard stretching from Jackson Avenue in Long Island City to Jamaica Avenue in Jamaica.

“The community doesn’t respond to it,” she said. “It does not have to be this way and it’s not going to change unless we make a fuss about it.”

During the march street safety advocates discussed the history of the roadway, stopping at specific spots pedestrians lost their lives. The “Winter Wander” Rally ended in Forest Hills.

The Zero on Queens Boulevard campaign,  with more than 40 coalition partners and close to 2,000 petition signatures, has a long-term goal of making sure the city allocates funding and energy to change the boulevard on a large scale saving lives and strengthening the local economy.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm, who has worked with the Department of Transportation to implement neighborhood slow zones and other pedestrian safety improvements in his district, also joined the group on the march. In his district three children have also lost their lives in traffic fatalities in the past few months.

“This is a very, very serious issue and we have to continue to stress the seriousness of this because sometimes people dismiss it as just something that doesn’t affect their lives but when you look at the statistics you see that there are more pedestrian deaths than there are murders in the city of the New York,” said Dromm. “I believe in the three E’s:  engineering, education and enforcement on these issues and that’s what we have tried to do in my council district. More needs to be done.”

According to the DOT, there have been decade-long improvements to the seven-mile strip that have re-engineered the streets for enhanced safety. Some of these improvements include pedestrian countdown signals at more than 60 intersections at Queens Boulevard from Queens Plaza South to Hillside Avenue, lowering the speed limit on Queens Boulevard from 35 to 30 mph, installing 15 electronic boards displaying the speed of passing motorists, installing 46,000 linear feet of pedestrian fencing along the entire corridor to prevent jaywalking and many more.

“Safety is DOT’s top priority, in the last ten years, traffic fatalities have fallen borough-wide by nearly 35 percent,” said DOT spokesperson Nicholas Mosquera. “Queens Boulevard saw 18 pedestrian fatalities at its height in 1997 and zero pedestrian fatalities in 2011, the first time this has been recorded, and two last year along the entire seven-mile corridor. We continue to look for ways to enhance safety both on Queens Boulevard and citywide.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Speed cameras to go into effect near city schools September 9


| dromano@homereporter.com

Photo courtesy of the New York City Mayor’s Office

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan have announced that the speed camera pilot program would roll out at yet-to-be-determined locations near schools citywide beginning the first day of school, Monday, September 9.

The law allows the city to install speed cameras at 20 locations within a quarter mile of schools in high crash locations and it allows the city to rotate the cameras to school locations across the five boroughs. The cameras would work much like the red-light cameras already in place; they would not photograph the driver or share the license plate number of the car.

Default penalties for speeding would be set at $25 with a maximum penalty of $50 for speeding between 10 and 30 miles above the speed limit and $100 for speeding over 30 miles above the speed limit.

The mayor and commissioner were joined by NYPD Chief of Transportation James Tuller on Monday, August 26 at W.E.B. Dubois High School in Crown Heights, one of the candidates to receive speed camera technology nearby due to a high crash rate in its vicinity.

“Keeping streets safe for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians is one of the most important public safety challenges any government faces,” said Bloomberg. “Our streets are the safest they have ever been, due in large part to our enforcement efforts and innovative traffic engineering that have brought traffic fatalities to record lows. Curbing speeding around schools will help us continue to make our city’s streets safer for everyone.”

“Over the last six years, we’ve kept an unrelenting focus on the safety of our most vulnerable New Yorkers, and with speed cameras we’re now putting an even sharper focus on safety near our schools,” Sadik-Khan added. “Motorists who play fast and loose on our streets need to learn the critical lesson that the New York City’s speed limit is 30 mph for a reason, and that it’s literally the difference between life and death.”

Transportation Alternatives has been working with the DOT and community groups to identify the best locations for the cameras. Since August 14, 72 requests have been made for 220 locations.

“New Yorkers want to save lives and they know speed cameras will do just that,” said Paul Steely White, TA’s executive director. “Just in time for the school year, several dozen school zones will be safer. We look forward to the day when every school has the same protection against reckless drivers.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Cyclists take part in sixth annual Tour de Queens


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

After completing the Five Boro Bike Tour last year, Astoria resident Jennifer Chakrabarti wanted to do a bike ride with her nine-year-old son Bhaskar.

The family-friendly sixth annual Tour de Queens on July 7 fit the bill. This year, it began in Chakrabarti’s “backyard” at Astoria Park.

“I like that it’s a slow-paced so that kids can do it,” Chakrabarti said. “That’s what really drew us to it, because he wanted to do a ride.”

About 1,250 riders from all over the city saddled up for the annual bike tour to experience a relaxing ride and enjoy unique views of western Queens neighborhoods, which was a major lane change for the event.

For the first time ever, the ride started in Astoria Park instead of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. It continued for nearly 20 miles through Long Island City, Ridgewood, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park, Forest Hills, Corona and Elmhurst.

The ride also highlighted Juniper Valley Park at the halfway point, where the group gathered to rest, eat and reenergize.

“We change the ride up every year to showcase different parts of the borough, to demonstrate the interconnectivity of the different neighborhoods and to show how easy it is to bike through the borough and to show people the sites,” said event director Ben McRoberts of Transportation Alternatives.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, whose district was included in the tour, hoped the ride could help future business.

“Not only is it healthy for all of us, but it is a great opportunity for people to see sites and small businesses that they never get to see,” said Van Bramer, who participated for the first time this year.

SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM TOUR DE QUEENS 

About 100 volunteer ride marshals in orange jackets followed riders to keep them on track and assist in case there were any issues. Paramedics also followed closely behind the bikers in case of medical problems.

The NYPD escorted the ride to manage the crowd and traffic and provide a safe atmosphere. Many participants felt secure with the cops guiding the tour, especially after the tragic events of the Boston Marathon earlier this year.

“With this number of people, I guess there is a little bit of safety concern,” said Astoria cyclist Jonathan Co. “But I feel pretty safe for the most part.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

MTA poll looks at reopening Elmhurst LIRR station


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Rosa Kim

BY ROSA KIM

Transit officials are surveying Elmhurst residents to determine the viability of reopening the shuttered LIRR station at Broadway.

The station, between Cornish and Whitney Avenues, closed in 1985 due to a decrease in ridership, officials said.

But since then, the community’s residential and commercial population has increased.

“When this station closed, people thought Elmhurst was done and over with,” said Councilmember Daniel Dromm. “Now, we’re seeing the revitalization of this community.”

Congressmember Joseph Crowley said reopening the station would spur economic growth and modernize the city.

“Reopening the Elmhurst station would increase residents’ access to both midtown Manhattan as well as Long Island,” he said. “It would help create jobs and provide an economic boost to many small businesses in the community.”

The mail-in survey asks residents within a half-mile radius of the station 10 questions to gauge potential ridership.

The questions cover how often respondents travel to Manhattan, how they usually get there and their likelihood of choosing to ride via LIRR.

Transportation Alternatives executive director Paul White said the station would bring first-rate transit service to Elmhurst.

If the Elmhurst LIRR station existed, commuters could expect a travel time of 15-16 minutes to get to Penn Station during morning peak hours, according to MTA spokesperson Salvatore Arena.

Officials expect the fare during peak hours would be around $8, and $5.75 during off-peak hours.

The review process of the potential $30 million project began last year with a walking tour of the neighborhood and a town hall meeting where the response was “tremendous,” according to MTA LIRR president Helena Williams.

“There are many issues that need to be carefully evaluated as part of this process, but the response has been positive so far,” she said.

The MTA expects to have a good sense of potential ridership by the end of the year, though no decisions will be made until 2015, Williams said.

 

 RECOMMENDED STORIES

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High of 68. Winds from the WNW at 5 to 20 mph shifting to the South in the afternoon. Wednesday night: Overcast with a chance of rain. Low of 45. Breezy. Winds from the SW at 10 to 20 mph shifting to the WNW after midnight. Chance of rain 50%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Neighborhood Street-Ups – Queens Edition

Do you care about safe streets? Of course you do! Come join us for the launch of our meet and mingle bar events: Neighborhood Street-Ups! Hosted by Transportation Alternatives. Don’t miss out on an exciting opportunity to connect one-on-one with like-minded New Yorkers and become more involved with the issues that matter most to you. There will be food and drink specials available throughout the evening. The Queens event will be held at 7:00 p.m. at Gleason’s Bar in Astoria. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Driver crashes into Queens auto body shop, killing 1, injuring 2

A car slammed into an auto body shop near Citi Field Tuesday, leaving one dead and two injured. Read more: The Queens Courier 

Bombing suspect’s uncle: Friend in Cambridge ‘brainwashed him completely

The evolution of Tamerlan Tsarnaev from aspiring Olympic boxer to apparent self-radicalized jihadist may have been influenced by a friend in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Read more: CNN

Sand coming to Rockaway beaches in June 

The first extra dose of sand is coming this June to storm-worn sections of Rockaway’s beaches. Read more: New York Daily News

NYC gets green light for smartphone cab app

The city can experiment with letting taxi seekers hail rides electronically, a judge said Tuesday in a ruling that could clear the way for riders to summon the city’s signature yellow taxis with smartphone apps instead of raised arms. Read more: Fox New York 

MTA ticketed nearly 57G fare-beaters since enforcement program launched

The MTA has ticketed nearly 57,000 fare-beaters since it launched its own enforcement program five years ago. Read more: New York Daily News 

2nd Miss. man investigated in ricin case 

Law enforcement officials searched the home of a second Mississippi man in connection to ricin-laced letters sent to the president and a U.S. senator after charges were dropped without explanation against a man arrested in the case last week. Read more: AP

Pols call for review of ‘G’ train performance


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of State Senator Michael Gianaris

An important transit option for Queens and Brooklyn, local politicians are calling for the MTA to review the “G” line and its numerous service issues.

The train, which travels from Long Island City to Kensington, Brooklyn, and is the only subway line that doesn’t go through Manhattan, was extended recently to Church Avenue.

But that change didn’t remedy other issues, such as frequency of trains, communication with riders about service changes and disruptions, and the lack of free out-of system transfers.

These complaints were highlighted in a recent petition campaign by the Riders Alliance, and in a letter to the MTA’s interim president, Thomas Prendergast.

Sent by State Senators Daniel Squadron and Martin Malavé Dilan, the letter asked for a full performance review of the “G” line, as the MTA did with the “F” and “L” trains.

The request is also supported by over a dozen other politicians and transit advocates.

“Constant service disruptions, a lack of service change notifications and increased commuter expenses due to limited free transfers make clear that the MTA treats the G train like the ugly duckling of the MTA system,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris, who attended the Rally For a Better G Train held in Williamsburg yesterday. “It should provide commuters with direct, convenient access between Queens and Brooklyn, rather than forcing travel through Manhattan to get from one borough to the other.”

“The G Train is critical to residents and businesses throughout Brooklyn and a key connection for the growing number of workers commuting between Brooklyn and Queens. Everything possible should be done to ensure this important subway line keeps pace with the thriving communities it serves,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Queens buses fare well on annual survey


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Danielle Petrovich

The NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign and Transportation Alternatives just gave out two awards for the poorest bus service in the city, but only a few Queens buses were cited as slow or unreliable.

The first, called the “Pokey”award, is for the slowest route and determined by volunteers who ride 34 bus lines that are renowned for their high volume of riders and history of delayed rides.

This year there was a tie for first place—the M66 and M42 buses.  Both are crosstown Manhattan routes and had an average speed of 3.9 mph at noon on a weekday.

“The M66 and M42 are excruciatingly slow,” said Gene Russianoff, attorney for NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign. “[They] would lose a race to an amusement park bumper car — and be a lot less fun! A bumper car can go 4.3 miles per hour compared to the 3.9 miles of the Pokey award winning buses.”

In Queens, the Q58 was the 25th slowest bus in the city, at 7 mph, followed by the Q44 LTD at 9.5 mph and the Q27 at 9.9 mph.

Although the Q58 is faster than many other NYC buses, some Queens riders were unhappy with its service.

“I have to leave for work extra early just for the bus. It’s so slow; it takes forever to get to my stop,” said Flushing resident Tanya, a frequent passenger on the Q58.

“The bus is always so inconsistent. It never comes at the same times every day,” said Tom of Fresh Meadows.

The second award given out, the “Schleppie,” which measures how well buses keep to scheduled intervals, and is based off of official transit statistics, didn’t include any Queens buses.

First place went to the M4, which runs from Upper Manhattan to Penn Station on Fifth and Madison Avenues and Broadway. Nearly 30 percent of  its arrivals were bunched together or had big gaps in service. Close behind it were the M101/2/3, S78 and S74  lines, all having an unreliability rating over 20 percent.

MTA to hike fares in ’13, ’15 & ’17


| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

City straphangers are getting a brief reprieve from a 2013 fare hike, but will soon be paying more at both the turnstile and MetroCard machine.

The MTA approved a preliminary budget including a bump in 2013 fares, followed by further increases in 2015 and 2017. A $1 “green fee” will also be added to newly purchased MetroCards. Tolls and commuter line fares will rise as well.

Fares were originally intended to be boosted beginning in January, but will be held off until March.

The biennial increases will net the agency $450 million next year and an additional $500 million in 2015.

Details on the hikes have not been released and will be made available later this year ahead of November’s public hearings.

“They should not increase the prices,” said Nesto Murdolk, 40, of Bayside. “There’s no way people can afford it.”

New Yorkers are frustrated at being “fed a steady diet of fare increases without corresponding improvements in service,” said Ya-Ting Liu, the transportation advocate for Transportation Alternatives at a June 25 MTA hearing.

Fares have been raised three times since 2007.

Other residents see the need for an increase to cover the MTA’s deep debts.

“I think it is necessary because of the running deficit,” said Bayside resident Fred Z., 71. “We’re going to have to increase taxes or get money from the fares.”

Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign said there is a fine line between the agency’s financial woes and providing a service, though he says that the MTA is not to blame.

“We think that the state doesn’t fund transit well enough,” he said. “There should be more support, rather than getting it all from the riding public.”

The MetroCard surcharge will produce about $20 million for the MTA — $18 million from the fee and $2 million in savings through printing fewer cards.

It is not known when a proposed $1 surcharge for new MetroCards will go into effect, though it will likely be enacted along with the March fare hike.

“My feeling is that people should be reusing their cards and part of it is a monetary benefit to the riding public,” Russianoff said.

Many cards are tossed aside with money amounting to less than one fare remaining. The MTA projects that $56.2 million will remain on MetroCards at the close of 2012. The number includes money on cards thrown away, lost or yet to be used.

— Additional reporting by Greg Giaconelli

Queens MTA riders call for more service restorations


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Recently rolled out MTA restorations drew praise from many, though some advocates and politicians said Queens riders were still left in the lurch.

Following deep 2010 slashes to service in the five boroughs, the MTA announced $29 million in restorations and new service to dozens of subway lines and bus routes accounting for approximately one-third of the original cuts. Five new bus routes were also added, the first in more than a decade.

In Queens, riders of the Q24, Q27, Q30, Q36, Q42 and Q76 will see lost service renewed or improved.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about how to improve both the quality and quantity of service for our riders, and I’m pleased that these investments will make a difference in the lives of our customers,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph Lhota.

Not everyone was offering the MTA a pat on the back.

“You don’t get a gold star for returning what you took in the first place,” said Michael Murphy of Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group that wants all cuts restored.

The cutbacks of two years ago were due in large part to cover a budget gap of nearly $900 million. New and resumed services being phased in beginning in October will be funded through increased ridership and savings.

More than 30 bus routes were eliminated throughout the city, with an additional 100 altered during the 2010 slashes.

In Queens, the “W” train and seven buses were eliminated, along with reduced service on more than a dozen routes.

“There’s no reason for one part of Queens to be left in the dark while the rest of the city sees enhancements and restorations,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris at an Astoria press conference outside a former “W” train station.

Most of the additions were in northeast and southeast Queens.

The MTA focused on areas where network coverage was lost, ample access to transportation was not provided, and looked at opportunities to serve new and growing communities, said agency spokesperson Kevin Ortiz.

Many other demands of Queens straphangers fell on deaf ears, especially regarding express buses.

Ali Fadil, a northeast Queens resident, collected hundreds of signatures calling for the QM20 to reach lower Manhattan, eliminating the need to transfer to the subway or travel to another neighborhood.

“There are many people in our area who get on the expressway and drive and drive to Fresh Meadows for the QM7 and QM8 for service to and from lower Manhattan, turning Fresh Meadows into a commuter parking lot where it can be very hard to find parking,” he said.

In southeast Queens, riders of the QM21 called for the bus to again run every 15 minutes as it had prior to 2010. Currently, the bus runs every half hour.

“This means if a bus doesn’t show for whatever reason, one can suffer an hour-long wait in order to begin his commute. This would render him late to his destination, which would likely be work,” said Tamisha Chevis of the Rochdale Village Commuters in Action.

“We should be in a situation of talking about new services to communities that have none,” said Murphy. “Instead we’re playing defensive and we’re trying to get back stuff that was taken away.”