Tish James and Queens Pols to DOT: Finish Strong on Woodhaven BRT

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Public Advocate Tish James with City Council members Donovan Richards and Jimmy Van Bramer on the steps of City Hall this morning. Photo: David Meyer

Public Advocate Letitia James joined Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, Council Member Donovan Richards, and Queens transit activists on the steps of City Hall this morning to push the de Blasio administration to follow through on its plans for better bus service along Woodhaven Boulevard.

Earlier this year, DOT presented plans for bus lanes and pedestrian safety improvements along 14 miles of Woodhaven Boulevard and Cross Bay Boulevard [PDF], from Jackson Heights to the Rockaways. The project would speed up the Q52 and Q53, which serve 30,000 passengers each weekday but currently spend just 57 percent of the time in motion. New pedestrian islands and medians are also expected to reduce injuries on one of the deadliest streets in the city.

The rally comes at an important moment. While Richards and several other council members have called for full-fledged Bus Rapid Transit on Woodhaven Boulevard, the reallocation of street space from cars to buses is encountering some resistance in the neighborhood of Woodhaven.

With capital construction not set to begin until 2017, the implementation process is going to last at least two more years. The rally was a reminder that support for overhauling Woodhaven Boulevard runs deep, sending a message that DOT and City Hall shouldn’t buckle to pressure to water down the project. The BRT for NYC Coalition has now collected 7,000 signatures in favor of it.

For sections of Woodhaven and the Rockaways where high poverty rates couple with long commute times, said Richards, the project “is a transit equity issue.”

“It’s unfair that we’re still fighting for BRT in our areas when we need it so much,” Woodhaven resident Stephanie Veras told the crowd.

James said she’s familiar with the fear of changing a street, which she encountered when she was a council member and Select Bus Service rolled out on the B44. “It’s really an education process,” she said. “It’s about responding to these individuals who have concerns.”

After the rally, Veras said that process shouldn’t obstruct making much-needed transit improvements. “People are reluctant to change — it’s human,” she said. “We have to keep pushing. The biggest challenge is car riders who don’t want BRT.”

The concept for bus lanes and median islands along Woodhaven Boulevard. Image: NYC DOT
  • BrooklynBus

    This project is based on a foundation of lies. Starting with the picture you show. DOT photoshopped out about a dozen cars and painted in two dozen pedestrians as well as photoshopping out a needed traffic signal to paint that beautiful picture you see. In reality, cars don’t magically disappear and pedestrians do not magically appear because of new pedestrian islands at an intersection with very low pedestrian activity. Pedestrians are attracted to more attractive commercial activity, not by a paintbrush.

    As for those 7,000 signatures supporting SBS, you can throw those all in the garbage. There are dozens of witnesses from Woodhaven you can testify that all Ridrrs Alliance did was to stick a petition in the faces of pedestrians asking them to sign here if they want better bus service. Who doesn’t want better bus service and who wouldn’t sign unless you are one of the few who are aware what the project actually entales.

    And as for the B44? A total disaster with paid ridership nearly three times lower than on the average borough bus route. Paid ridership on the local is much higher than on the SBS in spite of better SBS service than on the local and more spacious longer buses. It is such a failure that the MTA never even issued a first or second year assessment.

    The MTA and DOT have only publicized the SBS positives and omitted all the negatives. The more people are learning what is truly planned like banning 23 left turns, parking, trucks on residential Trotting Course Lane, destruction of hundreds of trees, two years of construction chaos, delays in emergency response times, the reduction of road capacity by up to 75 percent for vehicles other than buses when only one in four or one in five is riding the bus, the more the opposition will grow. This ill-conceived project with no hard data to support it will be stopped in its tracks.

  • So you’re complaining about a project rendering that was created with Photoshop, a signature campaign for bus service improvements based on the pitch that they will improve bus service, and some stuff that exists only in your head, like a “reduction of road capacity by up to 75 percent.”

    I’m sorry Allan but you are too unhinged, spew too much made up bullshit, and post too many comments to retain privileges here. Goodbye.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    Allan,

    don’t you think a 59 cent per mile charge to Drive on Woodhaven would Be worth it just to speed your very important trips ? Poof ! Congestition eliminated

  • BBnet3000

    delays in emergency response times

    Giving emergency vehicles a dedicated red lane is going to slow them down?

  • kevd

    SBS B44 is standing room only every time I’ve been in it. And travel times have dramatical improved. You don’t know what you are talking about. You are the definition of a crank.

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