BY SINDY NANCLARES
Queens Councilman Donovan Richardson and transportation activists on Tuesday called for designated bus lanes with select-stop buses for a “train-like service” that would ease the commute in highly congested Woodhaven Boulevard.
The proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) alternative would provide a faster and more efficient service, facilitating the commute for more than 30,000 people from the Far Rockaways to Cross Bay to Central Queens.
“It is like a subway, but on land,” said Stephanie Veras, Riders Alliance member. “When we were looking for models we saw modern bus stations in Colombia and South America… We need to be up to their level.”
Similar routes exist in Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn increased speeds by 15 to 20 percent, according to the MTA.
The Woodhaven Boulevard Corridor proposes a segregated traffic lane that would run in the right side of each road (north and south) with designated pay-before-you-ride pick-up platforms between them, making it safer for riders and easier for other vehicles.
Riders Alliance members stood on popular bus stops along the Boulevard, such as the Queens Center Mall, and the Jamaica Avenue and Liberty Avenue intersections, and collected more than 5,000 petitions requesting BRT service.
Executive Director of the Organization, John Raskin, said frequent riders constantly complain about inefficient service with over-crowed buses, long waiting times, and endless traffic.
“It would be a particular help to low-income commuters and to the hundreds of thousands of people who spend way too much of their lives stuck on frustrating, slow-moving buses,” said Raskin.
He explained that, although the project is still on the works and it is flexible supporters hope to have a service that is 24 hours a day, year round because “our public transportation needs to reflect the reality” of the needs in these communities.
Richardson of District 21 said that the city’s transportation authority has forgotten about communities in this area, leaving them without a high quality transportation system.
Every minute counts when you are riding a bus,” said Richardson. “I think everyone, in Queens in particular, knows the importance of having a more efficient bus service and having better transportation alternatives. ”
Councilmembers Ydanis Rodriguez, Brad Lander, Costa Constantinides and julissa Ferreras, among others signed a letter to the MTA and the Department of Transportation recommending the service in Queens.
Three route proposals were scheduled to go to the Department of Transportation, which will decide on a final proposal by 2015. If approved, the Bus Rapid Transit was expected to arrive to Queens in 2016.