Tag Archives: Transportation

Weekend bus trial to expand service along Vernon Boulevard


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The western Queens waterfront will soon get a taste of extended bus service.

The Q103 bus line, which connects Astoria and Long Island City via Vernon Boulevard, will begin offering service to riders on weekends starting in June, according to the MTA.

The weekend schedule will serve as a trial program for the transit agency to receive comments from the community at an MTA public hearing to be scheduled at a later date. After the public hearing, a decision will be made to keep the service or not, the MTA said. It was not determined how long the trial program would run.

“At long last, weekend service on the Q103 bus line is in sight,” said State Sen. Michael Gianaris, who has been calling for the extra service on the bus line since 2011. “The need for more public transportation in our area will only continue to grow, especially on weekends, as more people flock to our waterfront to visit our restaurants, parks and cultural institutions.”

The weekend service will run from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and, in addition, the Q103 will also extend its weekday service hours until 9 p.m., instead of 7:30 p.m. The travel path and bus stops will not be affected, according to the MTA.

“The expansion of service will not only benefit the increasing amount of riders but it will also give our growing cultural institutions that ability to generate more traffic to their venues,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.

Local leaders and business owners see the need to expand the Q103’s service as crucial to the growing neighborhoods, with the increase of new residential towers coming into the areas bringing more people.

According to officials, the Q103 ridership has been increasing in the past years, rising from 558 riders per day in 2011 to about 790 in 2014.

“The Q103 service is a vital link for the cultural organizations of western Queens,” said Jenny Dixon, director of The Noguchi Museum. “It enables visitors to go from The Noguchi Museum and Socrates Sculpture Park in the north to SculptureCenter, MoMA PS1, Dorsky Gallery and the Chocolate Factory to the south.”

 

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Former St. John’s Hospital, adjacent parking garage sell for $47 million


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy Massey Knakal

The former home to St. John’s Hospital will soon be transformed into a mixed-use building.

Real-estate company Massey Knakal announced it handled the $47 million sale of the 90-02 Queens Blvd building in Elmhurst, together with a five-story parking garage located at 87-28 58th Ave.

“For the first time, Queens is beginning to see a trickle-down effect of rising rents from primary neighborhoods, like Long Island City,” said Stephen Palmese, senior executive vice president of sales for Massey Knakal, who handled the sale together with company partner Thomas A. Donovan. “This is similar to Williamsburg’s effect on Bushwick. As a result, secondary markets, like Elmhurst, which also have great transportation, are experience strong increases in residential rent.”

St. John’s Hospital closed its doors in 2009 after Caritas Health Care, which ran the hospital, filed bankruptcy. Brooklyn-based developer called 89-52 Queens LLC then purchased the property and was the most recent owner up until the sale.

Approved plans from the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals show the new owner plans to convert the about 266,322-square-foot former hospital building into a mixed-use building with ground floor and lower level retail, medical facilities on the second floor and residential units on the remaining floors, according to Massey Knakal.

The about 86,400-square-foot parking garage, located behind the building, holds a capacity of 290 parking spots.

“This property is located across the street from the Queens Center mall, which is one of the top grossing malls in the U.S.,” said Donovan.

The property is located across the street from Queens Center and Queens Place Mall and near four major expressways.

 

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Queens legislators balk at plans to toll East River bridges


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A plan to reduce five Queens bridge fares by nearly half is not worth tolling free city crossings, some borough lawmakers say.

Under a proposal by transportation coalition, Move NY, drivers in the cash lane would have to pay $7.50 one way and $15 round trip to travel across the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg and Ed Koch Queensboro bridges. 

It would also cost the same amount to cross 60th Street in Manhattan, north and southbound.

As a trade-off, E-ZPass tolls on the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, Bronx-Whitestone, Throgs Neck, Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial and Cross Bay Veterans Memorial bridges would be lowered by 47 percent. Cash fares on those bridges would go down by 33 percent.

“We toll nearly every single crossing between every borough in the five boroughs of New York City already, yet we’re giving over half a million folks a free ride,” said Move NY Director Alex Matthiessen. “It’s not fair to transit riders and certainly not fair to other drivers, who are paying through the nose in tolls.”

The electronic tolling plan, which would require no booths, would raise $1.5 billion in net revenue toward improving the state’s mass transit infrastructure, create 35,000 new jobs and restore bus service cut in 2010, Matthiessen said.

Motorists paying cash would be billed by mail, easing gridlock by dispersing traffic throughout the city, according to Matthiessen and Kendra Hems, president of the New York State Motor Truck Association.

But some Queens legislators balked at the idea.

“I am skeptical about tolling the free bridges because once the free bridges are tolled and the infrastructure is in place, we all know from experience that it would be very hard to reverse that,” said Assemblymember David Weprin.

The plan also failed to get support from Councilmember Eric Ulrich and State Senator Joseph Addabbo, who have been fighting to eliminate the $3.75 cash toll residents have to pay on the Cross Bay Bridge to enter the Rockaways.

“Imposing tolls on motorists on bridges that are currently free is not the right way to go,” Ulrich said. “The two are not mutually exclusive. It’s not ‘take this or that.’”

While the Cross Bay Bridge toll has been a “major thorn” in the community’s side, Addabbo said the swap is not enough.

“At this point, cutting it in half would ease the pain by half,” he said. “It would still be half the pain.”

It also costs residents on the peninsula the same amount to get into Brooklyn on the Gil Hodges.

State Senator Tony Avella said the rates, while discounted in the first year, would only increase annually. He plans to introduce a bill that would prohibit tolls on East River bridges.

“The two things for sure in this world are death and taxes,” he said.

Move NY is led by Sam Schwartz, a former city traffic commissioner. The ambitious tolling plan is in its drafting stage, officials said, and still requires public input.

“In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have tolls at all,” Hems said. “But, unfortunately, we do and we have this inequity right now.”

THE COURIER/File photo by Walter Karling

 

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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.”

 

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Fowl strikes cause foul feelings


| aaltman@queenscourier.com


Recent collisions between birds and airplanes departing city airports could give a much-needed “all clear” for negotiations between the Port Authority and wildlife conservation groups.

While recent uproar mainly surrounds possible runway expansion plans at JFK, in-flight crashes with birds came under scrutiny when a Los Angeles-bound flight was quickly grounded after a bird was sucked into its engine shortly after taking off on Thursday, April 19.

Tarmac expansion came under fire when the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey announced its proposal to extend the airport’s runway, expected to cover a significant portion of the Jamaica Bay area, in February, 2011. The 400-acre area of land, including wetlands and shoreline, was designated as a wildlife refuge, park and recreation area by the National Parks System in 1972.

Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder believes conservationists attempting to protect the birds and those trying to ensure the safety of plane passengers need to collaborate.
While preserving Jamaica Bay has long since been a priority on Goldfeder’s platform, he proclaims he is not for working against the airports, adding that there is always a balance to be found.

Goldfeder also noted that many people believe the birds striking the planes are not the same birds nesting in the Jamaica Bay area.

A source close to the situation suggested increasing traffic out of the city’s other airports, LaGuardia and Newark, is a better solution than filling in Jamaica Bay.

Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority, claimed that the agency’s wildlife control protocol is above and beyond Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, insisting they are among the industry’s most effective.

“Our wildlife biologists and staff efforts to minimize threats to aircraft include reducing nesting areas, removing standing water and eliminating food sources,” said Coleman. “We also use pyrotechnics to disperse birds. We believe those efforts are effective since the number of incidents at JFK resulting in aircraft damage has remained about the same since 2008.”

Dan Mundy, president and founder of Jamaica Bay Eco Watchers, believes the recent increase in collisions between birds and planes reflects a recent boost in area wildlife.
Mundy mentioned the famed incident of US Airways Flight 1549, when Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger was forced to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River after striking a flock of Canadian geese in January of 2009. Mundy alleged that high-flying fowl cause more severe problems than those closer to the ground, adding that groups of migrating birds can be dangerous to planes, as with Flight 1549.

Acknowledging that the Port Authority takes measures to scare away birds, such as simulated gunshots and preying falcons, Mundy wondered why plane manufacturers have yet to design a system to prevent birds from being sucked into engines.

Mundy added that bird strikes are not just a problem with airplanes. Several tall buildings, including the Empire State Building, have caused the demise of birds killed by flying directly into the glass windows.

‘Travel & Leisure’ magazine names La Guardia worst airport in the US


| jlane@queenscourier.com

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Air travelers are weighing in on the best and worst airports in the United States.

A poll by Travel and Leisure magazine puts New York’s LaGuardia Airport at the bottom of the heap.

Travelers complain about the airport’s check-in and security process and say it’s the worst for staff communications, design and cleanliness. Read More: New York Post

 

This Morning’s Headlines


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Laughing at Fidel: NY fest stars ‘defect’ — as in their film

They sure took their roles to heart. Two Cuban actors who were supposed to be on their way to the TriBeCa Film Festival in New York — for a screening of their flick about teens defecting from Cuba to the United States — mysteriously disappeared in Miami last week and may now seek asylum themselves. “To be sincere, I think they’re going to stay’’ in the United States, admitted the pair’s “Una Noche’’ co-star Dariel Arrechada, 20, to the Huffington Post. Read More: New York Post

Sick sex ‘drive’ — Trapped prostitutes shuttled to tricks by 6 cabbies: DA

A father and son from Queens ran a lucrative — and cruel — brothel on wheels for two decades, using six livery drivers to deliver hookers to hotels and apartments, Manhattan prosecutors said in announcing the ring’s breakup yesterday. In a sick twist, the dad, Vincent George Sr., 55, not only taught Vincent Jr., 33, how to pimp, but may at one point have either employed his own daughter as a hooker or pawned her off on yet another pimp, prosecutors said, declining to elaborate. Read More: New York Post

Poll Finds Quinn Is Clear Leader In 2013 Mayoral Democratic Field

Christine Quinn, it seems, is breaking away from the pack. According to the newest NY1/Marist College poll, if the Democratic primary were held today, the City Council speaker would win 32 percent of the vote. That is 10 points better than she did in the last NY1/Marist poll in September and 20 points ahead of her nearest rival, former City Comptroller Bill Thompson. Read More: NY1

 

MTA Alter 21 City Bus Routes To Match Riders’ Demands

On Monday the MTA announced that as part of its ongoing review of ridership it was reducing service on 15 routes, while six routes will get increased service. Changes range from half a minute to 10 minutes. The authority says these changes are cost-neutral. Read More: NY1

 

Man in critical condition after being slammed by hit-run driver in Woodhaven

A 50-YEAR-OLD man was in critical condition Monday night after a hit-and-run driver plowed into him as he crossed a busy Queens intersection, police said. The victim was unconscious when emergency crews found him in the roadway at Jamaica Ave. and Woodhaven Blvd. just before 7 p.m., fire officials said. “He was walking in the middle of the street,” said Tiffany Robinson, 22, who said the man did not have the right of way as he crossed the boulevard. “He went 15 feet in the air, flipped — his sneakers went in different directions.” Read More: Daily News

 

Making room for another civic group in Queens

Queens has so many neighborhoods and civic groups that they often double up on each other. So does the borough really need one more? Paul Gagliardotto, a 26-year-old sanitation worker from Glendale, thinks so. Gagliardotto recently formed the Forest Park Civic Association of Queens in an effort to unite the various neighborhoods surrounding the 543-acre green oasis. “We all have this wonderful park in common, yet district lines use this area in central west Queens as a dividing point,” he said. “What we will strive to do is create one voice for these areas.” Read More: Daily News

Little girl left on bus; driver charged


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photo by Anthony DelMundo

Police parked a private bus driver in prison after she left her vehicle unattended — with a toddler still aboard.

Officers from the 110th Precinct responded to Christie Avenue and 99th Street in Corona at 9 a.m. on April 12 after receiving a 9-1-1 call from a Con Edison worker who spotted a child in the driver’s seat of a parked bus. Upon arrival at the scene, cops discovered two-year-old Samantha Bustamante abandoned inside the unattended private vehicle, which is operated by Anita Bus Company.

The police proceeded to break a window and remove the toddler, who they believe was left alone for roughly 15 minutes. Bustamante was taken back to the 110th Precinct, where she was reunited with her mother. EMS also responded to the precinct to evaluate the girl and determined she was in good physical condition.

“I was scared – terrified,” said mom Sandra Ramos, 24. “I started crying on the phone, but the police were telling me she was fine. I was terrified for my baby.”

Bustamante was picked up from her Elmhurst home at 7:20 a.m. by the Anita Bus and was supposed to be dropped off at Kathy’s Day Care, located at 97-30 57th Avenue in Corona, at roughly 8:30 a.m. with four other children. However, police say the driver, 62-year-old Ana Garcia, missed the girl while checking the vehicle after the other children departed.

Garcia was arrested by police after she returned to the bus and has been charged with failure to exercise control of a minor. She is also legally forbidden from coming near Bustamante. The NYPD says the Corona resident went home after parking the bus.

Attempts to contact Garcia were unsuccessful as of press time, and Anita Bus’ phone was not accepting incoming calls. Ramos says she paid for Anita Bus through Kathy’s Day Care, but a representative from the center would not comment as to whether they referred the bus service.

When Ramos received a call from the day care center informing her that her daughter had not been dropped off, she immediately called Garcia’s cell phone, but found police on the other end of the line. She initially suspected she was the victim of a practical joke, but her calm quickly turned to panic when the cops’ description matched Bustamante.

The frantic mother was then picked up from her job in Manhattan and brought to the station by police, where she found her daughter playing with officers and serving them coffee.

“When I first saw her, I started crying and I hugged my mom so my daughter wouldn’t see me. I didn’t want her to see the fear I had,” Ramos recollected. “She seemed so unaware – so brave in the situation. I guess she didn’t comprehend what happened so I didn’t want her to see me crying. I hugged my baby as hard as I could.”

Garcia’s son apologized to Ramos at the 110th Precinct, but she still has not been given an explanation for the mishap. She says she provides the bus company with a car seat for her daughter, and she is upset the child was unstrapped and able to walk to the driver’s seat.

“She was not in her car seat. She was walking around and that’s how they saw her,” Ramos said. “She was unbuckled and roaming around in the bus. It just shows their carelessness. Even if she was asleep or not tied in they are also supposed to check the bus. It’s frustrating.”

Despite the fear she initially felt for her daughter’s safety, Ramos is now happy just to have Bustamante safe and sound and is thankful a “good person” spotted her in the bus.
“What if it was someone else who passed by, someone not as good as the 9-1-1 caller – then they could have broken that window and taken my baby. I don’t even want to think about that. I want to think about having her,” Ramos said. “This is like a second chance for my daughter, and I’m just glad that I have her. I’m upset at the situation, but I’m happy with the result because I have my daughter safe.”

Railway favored over greenway?


| aaltman@queenscourier.com


A plan for a greener Queens has met some opposition.

The Institute for Rational Mobility, a non-profit group of transit advocates, disapproves of the construction of a greenway along three miles of abandoned railway stretching from Rego Park to Ozone Park. They feel the train tracks, which have remained idle for 50 years, would better serve the community if revived for their original purpose – extended transportation throughout the borough.

George Haikalis, president of the Institute for Rational Urban Mobility, feels the reactivation of the railway does not necessarily mean hindering the creation of a park, suggesting that the two projects can exist simultaneously. Haikalis, who considers himself “a long-time supporter of parks and open space,” compares his vision of a tandem greenway and railway to the layout of the Manhattan Bridge.

“[Officials in charge of designing the project] just have to be thoughtful and creative,” said Haikalis. “It’s not trying to pit one against the other.”

Haikalis alleges the venture requires less work, as several structures are already in place, estimating the undertaking will cost about $500 million. If revived, the railway will run from Manhattan to John F. Kennedy Airport.

Assemblymember Philip Goldfeder said he vehemently opposes turning the railway into a park, alleging that the revival of a train to south Queens will benefit a community he calls “severely underserved.” Goldfeder also argued the necessity of an extended transit system if the proposed plan to build a convention center at Aqueduct Racetrack falls into place.

While both Goldfeder and Haikalis are in favor of preserving green space, they feel the railway will best serve the area if restored.

Train derailment causing delays on 4,5 and 6 lines


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com


A train derailment on the northbound No. 6 line early this morning caused delays and service changes on the 4, 5 and 6 trains.

Normal service has returned following the derailment though there are still residual delays.

If possible riders should use an alternate route to avoid delays.

No injuries were reported from the derailment and the cause is under investigation.

MTA reduces subway service for “minor holidays”


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com


New York City subway riders may notice they are waiting a little longer for the train today.

Columbus Day marks the first time the MTA has implemented its “minor holiday” schedule.

After studying minor holidays, the agency discovered ridership levels are often less than 75 percent of peak ridership. The reduction in service on these days will be smaller than the reduction in ridership, according to the MTA. This is a pilot program that will see expansion if successful.

The changes affect the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 lines. The agency estimates it will save $200,000 annually.

The “minor holidays” that will see service reduced are: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Good Friday, Columbus Day, the Friday after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve (when it falls on a Monday through Thursday), three weekdays following Christmas and New Years Eve (when it falls on a Monday through Thursday).

New parking regulations to help businesses


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

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Commuters utilizing the muni-meter lots on Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside are having their parking plans curbed by the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer joined DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and other local elected officials on September 29 to announce that 60 muni-meter parking spaces on Queens Boulevard and 40th Street underneath the No. 7 train will be converted to a four-hour maximum time limit next month.

In addition, the weekday “No Standing 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.” regulation on the north curb of westbound Queens Boulevard from 48th Street to 32nd Place will be removed, and two-hour muni-meter regulations will be installed. Street cleaning will also be in effect daily between 7:30 and 8 a.m.

Community leaders hope that the adjusted parking regulations, which begin on October 31, will make the area more accessible to motorists, particularly those looking to visit the neighborhood’s businesses. Among the intended benefits is the prevention of commuters leaving their cars in the lots prior to using the train to travel to their jobs in Manhattan.

“We live here, we shop here and we want to support our local neighborhood,” said Van Bramer. “We also want to make sure that there is sufficient turnover to allow more people to access the services on Queens Boulevard. If we limit so much parking to commuters who are coming very early, getting off the 7 train after work, getting in their cars and heading back east, then that is not benefitting our neighborhood.”

Before making the alterations, the DOT evaluated the traffic conditions on Queens Boulevard during the morning peak hours, and determined that the changes would create a better balance between short and long-term parking availability in the area.

“Sunnyside is more than a stop along the No. 7 train, it’s a destination for shoppers that local retailers depend on,” said Sadik-Khan. “By expanding short-term parking, we’re balancing the needs of commuters while providing access that will help boost the local economy.”

Stores in the area are excited about the potential surge in business that could come from having their shops more accessible to customers.

“The people who park here for 12 hours are the people who go to the city,” said Giovanni Brione, manager of Oasis Pizzeria, which is located across from a parking lot. “They shop and eat in the city, come back here and then go back to the island. If we have more space available for parking, then more people will come here to shop. Many times people don’t want to come around here because there is no parking. This change will help the businesses.”

Despite claims that the adjustments were requested and are heralded by Sunnyside residents, some believe the changes are less about improving parking flow and more about increasing cash flow to the city.

“I can’t believe the city is doing this,” said Adrian Ionas, a resident of Sunnyside. “This is not going to be an improvement for the people parking here. The city is just looking to make more money.”

For MTA info dial 5-1-1


| brennison@queenscourier.com


For any MTA-related issue or question, Queens residents now have to remember only three numbers, 5-1-1.

The MTA and New York State Department of Transportation announced this week that the New York State Travel Information Line will handle MTA-related inquiries, also.

The number will still provide information regarding roads and bridges, traffic and congestion, ferries and public transportation run by other agencies.

Dialing 5-1-1 provided limited MTA information before, but now will also allow callers to select additional functions such as Lost & Found, MetroCard Balance Protection, comments and concerns, ticket machines, ticket refunds, and group travel.

“This is a great example of how we are working to make it easier for our customers to get information and interact with the MTA at the same time that we reduce the MTA’s administrative costs,” said MTA Managing Director Diana Jones Ritter. “Customers now have a single phone number for all transportation-related questions, instead of a long and sometimes confusing list of agencies and departments.”

The MTA reduced what was 117 separate public phone numbers into just one.

Empty buses at J.H.S. 194


| bdoda@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photos by Bob Doda Assemblymember Simanowitz, Councilmember Dan Halloran and Assemblymember Ed Braunstein spoke to parents and students outside J.H.S. 194.

At the end of the school day outside William H. Carr Junior High School (J.H.S. 194), some school buses pulled away from the curb with less than 10 students on board.

“The reason why they’re empty is because the Mayor is doing something that he claims will save money, but at the end of the day, we know it’s not,” said Councilmember Dan Halloran, who called a press conference outside J.H.S. 194 recently in an effort to put pressure on the Department of Education (DOE) and the Mayor’s office regarding the slashing of school bus service to students in College Point; many of them commuting more than two hours travelling on city buses.

Surrounded by seventh and eighth grade students, frustrated parents and Assemblymembers Ed Braunstein and newly elected Mike Simanowitz, the councilmember explained that the fiasco regarding yellow bus service began three years ago when Mayor Bloomberg decided to cut out seventh and eighth grade bussing as a cost saving measure; a decision that Staten Island legislators instantly took to state court due to their lack of public transportation services. State Supreme Court Justice John Fusco ruled that the decision to eliminate school buses in Staten Island – as well as College Point in Queens which does not have a Junior High School or High School – was made “without concern for the welfare and safety of the affected students,” according to a December 2010 report.

City officials took that ruling to Federal Court where Fusco’s decision was overturned on the basis that each student throughout the five boroughs must be treated equally. Due to a miscommunication in the Department of Education, parents and students at J.H.S. 194 were not informed that bus service was cut until 24 hours before the first day of school. The message was delivered by phone in an automated message according to parents.

While there is no longer any legal recourse, Assemblymember Braunstein mentioned a bill that recently passed the State Senate and is now in the Assembly Education Committee would restore bus service for middle school students citywide based on proximity to schools.

The bill is named Aniya’s Law after a 13-year-old Staten Island girl who was killed last June while crossing an intersection to catch a city bus after school.

“It’s a common sense bill that hopefully we’ll be able to get passed,” said Assemblymember Simanowitz. “But even if it doesn’t get passed, the city should get this done on its own. They shouldn’t be forced to do it by statute or by law.

Again, the elected officials pressed the issue of filling out safety variance forms that can be found on their respective websites or through the DOE website in an effort to return bussing to those that meet specific circumstances regarding hazards or unsafe conditions on their public transportation route. Primary concerns for College Point parents have been the crossing of Francis Lewis Boulevard and other busy intersections to catch city buses, registered sexual predators along bus routes and dark wintery conditions that can be expected in the coming months.

“The question is no longer ‘It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where your children are?’ We know where they are because they are 10, 11 and 12-years-old. The question is “It’s 8:05 a.m., do you know if your kid got to school safe?” said Ann Marie Murphy, a concerned College Point parent of an J.H.S. 194 student.

Dangerous drop-off in Howard Beach


| mchan@queenscourier.com

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Some parents in Howard Beach are worried about getting their children to and from school in one piece.

Parents of children who attend P.S. 232 said the intersection between 153rd Avenue and 83rd Street — between the school and the Waldbaum’s across the street — is so “extremely dangerous” that they worry for their children’s safety as well as their own.

“The cars don’t stop. They just keep going. They don’t care if the kids are crossing,” said parent Cynthia Loureiro. “I don’t even cross on this corner. I go out of my way to the other corner. That’s how dangerous it is.”

There is no stop sign or traffic light at the intersection, but the NYPD posts a crossing guard there during the morning drop-off and afternoon dismissal.

“You have to fear for her life,” Loureiro said of the crossing guard. “That’s how bad the cars are.”

Parents also expressed frustration at the double — and sometimes even triple — parked cars on 83rd Street in front of the school. But even more frustrating and terrifying, according to parent Laura Vontoussaint, is what some parents do to avoid parking at all.

“The parents drop the kids off in the middle of the street. It just happened this morning [on Tuesday, September 20]. A lady opened up her doors at the yellow line and tried to let her child out in the middle of the intersection,” Vontoussaint said.

Despite rumors, the NYPD said they will not shut down 83rd Street during afternoon dismissals at 2:15 p.m.

“It has never been an accident-prone location,” said Kenneth Zorn, Community Affairs Officer for the 106th Precinct. “The numbers of accidents don’t match up to the complaints.”

Principal Lisa Josephson was unavailable for comment.

“You need a stop light. That’s the best thing for the safety of everyone– the kids, the parents and the crossing guard,” Vontoussaint said.