And Crappy pointed out that the transit agency made up a town called Fresh Pond in these maps.
Proposals in 2019 by the Metropolitan Transportation to rework the entire bus system in Queens were roundly hammered by the public and elected officials.
In the two years that Covid-19 put the project on the far, far back burner, the MTA, as promised, reviewed the feedback it collected.
The preliminary draft was unveiled Tuesday at a Jamaica press conference that included MTA CEO and Chairman Janno Lieber, Borough President Donovan Richards and city Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez.
“The Queens New Draft Plan is the third to be released, but in some ways, may be the most important of the five because Queens has, historically, had less subway service relative to its size and population than the other boroughs,” Lieber said. “So many people depend on buses for access to jobs, education, culture and everything else New York has to offer.”
Lieber acknowledged that the 2019 proposal was not well-received by the public. He said the new plan is an effort to increase the speed and frequency of service, balanced with convenience. He said the new plan applies to local and express service and emphasized that it still is a draft “to address the evolving needs of Queens communities, with a focus on more reliable service, faster travel, better connections, and ease of use.”
“A bus is mass transit in many parts of Queens,” he added. “It is the only way [in some areas] to connect to the subway system and the commuter rail system, so we are really emphasizing this.”
Craig Cipriano, New York City Transit’s interim president, also emphasized the draft nature of the document.
“This is going to be one of the largest bus redesigns in the country, with over 100 routes serving over 800,000 customers a day,” Cipriano said. “We’re eager to hear what you have to say, and there’s lots of room to make changes.”
Richards said the selection of Jamaica for the unveiling was no accident.
“For the residents of Queens who get up every day and go to bus stops, today is a great day,” Richards said. “If you come from Southeast Queens, like I do, you know it can take an hour just to get to one of the train stations here on Jamaica. I often joke, and it’s really not a joke, that it is easier to get to Florida by plane than it is to get to Manhattan from here on some days.”
While Richards said buses are a lifeline to parts of Eastern, Southeast and Southwest Queens, they often are unreliable, overcrowded and slow.
“The routes are outdated, and the schedules haven’t changed with our neighborhoods,” the borough president said. “They not only went back to the drawing board, they’re coming to us with a better product.”
One of the major complaints heard throughout community meetings in 2019 is that while eliminating some existing bus stops speeds up each bus trip, those who use those stops regularly will be at least slightly, maybe greatly, inconvenienced.
Lieber and Cipriano said the idea is to focus on stops that are closer together, which cost riders time at the curb.
“The focus is on connecting people more quickly to the subways and commuter railroads,” Lieber said in a question-and-answer session. “It also tries to balance the needs to move buses more quickly with the elimination of some bus stops while maintaining local bus service, especially with seniors.”
He said that is essential for anyone who does not live in an area close to subway lines.
“Buses have to be faster than walking,” he said.
Among the things Lieber said the city can do to help are things like signal prioritization for buses at traffic lights, and especially bus lanes.