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DOT Scrubs Flushing Busway Forum Amid Pushback from NIMBYs

9:40 AM EDT on August 2, 2020

The proposed Main Street busway. Image: DOT

The DOT quietly — and infuriatingly — canceled a “town hall” forum to promote its long-overdue “busway” plan for Main Street in Flushing after the neighborhood’s council member criticized the plan with a racially inflammatory remark.

Late on Friday afternoon, the DOT tweeted that the online forum planned for Monday morning had been canceled — just hours after Council Member Peter Koo had chanted, “What does BLM stand for? Business lives matter” at what was supposed to have been an event On Thursday to highlight the benefits of the car-free, .3-mile stretch from Northern Boulevard to Sanford Ave.

Streetsblog asked DOT why the forum had been scrubbed and got back this answer from agency spokesman Scott Gastel: “It was postponed and we'll be in touch with updates.” (Let the record show, we asked “why” not “was.”)

Insiders said that Koo’s outburst — in which he appropriated the Black Lives Matter movement equity movement to bolster his a pro-driver/anti-transit message — was behind the cancelation. (Koo later offered a weak statement meant as an apology.)

“They are planning to restart their community engagement process as a result of the bad reception they got at the [Thursday] presser,” said one source. “It’s now hard to tell if DOT is serious about the busway and wants to do community participation ‘right’ this time or if they are just pulling back.”

Koo is one of just a few Flushing leaders who oppose the busway plan claiming it will be bad for business. But the city’s own studies show that far more people use transit to get to Flushing’s shopping center than drive.

It’s not the first time the busway project has been delayed. When Mayor de Blasio announced the plan in June, he said the route would be complete that month. It is now August.

Transit advocates have begged the mayor to fight for long-suffering bus riders in Flushing, which has some of the slowest buses in town.

DOT has not responded. We will update if the agency does.

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