Queens Bus Redesign Now Pushed Back Until 2023

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Activated to address profound shortcomings a century in the making, the Queens Bus Redesign needs even more time. A complex plan became even more so after fielding input from 40 community meetings and a mountain of online comments. Roosevelt Island will have to wait for a controversial change – or not.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

“The team will spend the next several months incorporating stakeholder input, revising our proposals, and preparing draft schedules. We expect the proposal final plan will be published in 2023,” the MTA said in a press release.

Note: This does not guarantee or promise a plan for 2023. The pandemic caused a two-year stall. Even so, the five-borough bus plan is five years late.

Nothing the Queens Bus Redesign addresses the redundancy in bus traffic on Main Street. Rough on the beaten Z-brick design, its environmental thickheadedness also defeats the purpose of mass transit. RIOC and MTA buses track and trail each other, often with few or even no passengers. (And the dueling state agencies can’t get together on OMNY either.)

Queens Bus Redesign: Roosevelt Island Perspective

In the fall of 2019, the MTA proposed a plan that, at least from a Roosevelt Island point of view, was ludicrous. The Queens Bus Redesign replaced our Q102 with something called the QT78.

The route for Roosevelt Island couldn’t be serious. For example, it never went north of the helix and ended abruptly at the Subway – with no return route.

The intent was either to provoke a resident response or to set the stage with something so awful that any update was better. In any case, the QT78 vanished, replaced by a Q104, which changed only some stops on an established route, at least as far as Main Street goes.

Over the bridge though, the change was radical.

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Roosevelt Islanders Respond…?

The MTA never planned a community meeting for Roosevelt Island, but reacting to resident requests, RIOC’s then-President/CEO Susan Rosenthal arranged a Red Bus that transported locals to a nearby Queens session.

Hard to imagine these days, but RIOC engaged openly with the community in the pre-Haynes days.

Nonetheless, the turnout was not impressive as only a half-dozen or so took the ride. Roosevelt Islanders’ impact on planning was minimal.

From Q102 to Q104 Won’t Satisfy Everyone

The goal of the Queens Bus Redesign is updating routes set on century-old patterns created by multiple bus companies for multiple, sometimes overlapping communities. And Roosevelt Island is no exception.

The route now served was established before community development in 1976 when Goldwater and Coler Hospitals created the greatest demand.

That route, completed by the Q102, has major advantages that will be wiped out in the change. The greatest loss is the quick access it offered to the major transit hub in Queens Plaza.

That, in effect, expanded Roosevelt Island transit options by a half-dozen or more, but the Q104 does not go there.

Instead, driven more by Queens’s needs, it goes the other way.

Yet that has advantages too, like improved commercial access along Vernon Boulevard with a stop at Cosco before heading east on busy Broadway.

The Net Result

Although Roosevelt Island was not heard in the Queens Bus Redesign process, local transit will be affected when the Q104 takes over, maybe next year.

Those of us hoping for keeping the Q102 will be disappointed because it’s not going to happen.

But neither is anything else, at least not soon.

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