Bus Lanes and Faster Boarding Come to Flushing and Jamaica
Sunday marked the first day of service for Q44 Select Bus Service linking Jamaica, Flushing, and the southeast Bronx, so I headed over to Sutphin Boulevard and Main Street during the p.m. rush yesterday to check it out.
The Q44 SBS features the standard package of improvements that DOT and the MTA have employed to cut travel times on several other routes since 2008 — off-board fare payment, dedicated bus lanes, and priority for buses at traffic signals. State legislation enacted this year will enable camera enforcement of the bus lanes. The bus lanes don’t cover the whole route, since eastern Queens pols threw a fit about them in Briarwood and Kew Gardens Hills, but they do enable riders to bypass traffic on the most congested sections in Flushing and Jamaica.
Bus riders make more than 28,000 daily trips on the Q44. It’s the first bus route in Queens to be upgraded to SBS that doesn’t serve LaGuardia.
Unsurprisingly, a lot of people were still getting used to the new fare payment system yesterday. Whereas riders on the old Q44 paid one-by-one entering the bus, the new system allows them to do so before they get on and board at any door, speeding the process significantly.
DOT and MTA reps standing by each station to guide riders through it said people are settling into the new and improved Q44. “Most of the people, after they use it a few times, they understand the system,” said DOT’s Artenio Angeles, who was assisting passengers at a stop on Main Street.
One younger rider, Mohammed, who declined to give his last name, said he had stopped riding the Q44 months ago due to overcrowding and long wait times — until this week. “It’s better than it used to be. There’s a lot more room,” he said. “I like the fact that you don’t have to wait.”