Eyes on the Street: On Sunday, the Rockaway-Bound SBS is Really Crowded

Streetsblog's Queens crew spot-checks the ride to the beach.

Crowded buses stink. Now a new MTA app helps you know (sometimes!) when a bus is packed. File photo: Angela Stach
Crowded buses stink. Now a new MTA app helps you know (sometimes!) when a bus is packed. File photo: Angela Stach

For some, a simple day at the beach felt more like a day waiting for the bus.

Our eyes on the street in Queens sent us pictures this morning of a crowded Q53 bus from Woodside to the Rockaways — an SBS line that the MTA created last fall that has reduced weekday commute times, but appears to be giving weekend riders the summertime blues.

“Hey @MTA you HAVE to run more Q53 SBS to Rockaway on summer weekends. The buses are full to the breaking point from the first station in Woodside!” Angela Stach tweeted. She told Streetsblog she arrived at the route’s second stop at Broadway and 75th Street in Jackson Heights at 9:30 a.m. and waited 10 minutes before the bus arrived, already packed with beachgoers.

Photos back up her assessment. A subsequent tweet shows some would-be riders unable to get on the packed bus.

These poor folks have no chance of getting on this bus to get to the beach,” she tweeted. “It goes like this at every station, lots of people left behind. Wtf @MTA @nyct?”

Few people are getting off (since most people seem to be bound for beach, lots of kids w/ floaties, etc.),” Stach said in a text to Streetsblog. “I’ll certainly NEED the beach after this ordeal.” She said the trip took about an hour and five minutes — “which is great, unless you have to stand the whole way.”

SBS to rockaway
These people could not even get on the bus because it was so crowded.

Stach, who uses her bike to get around, said she only took the bus because there is no protected bike lane on Cross Bay Boulevard, a vital link to the Rockaways. “Biking to Jacob Riis is safer but a huge detour from Jackson Heights,” she tweeted.

According to MTA Bus Time, SBS departs the Roosevelt/61st Street stop every 12 minutes. But gaps between buses further down the line stretch to 18 minutes.

It is unclear if Rockaway-bound beachgoers experience this level of service every summer weekend. Service was certainly working well on July 20, which was, alas, a Friday.

A day later, a driver was forced to leave passengers waiting at the same stop where Stach had her troubles today, tweeted Carlos Bolanos.

This story will be updated later.

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