Jan. 6, 2020 By Kristen Torres
More than 1,000 people have signed an online petition demanding that the MTA modify its plan that would eliminate a number of bus routes that currently go through Jackson Heights.
The petition was created on Jan. 1 by Rachel Knopf—just one day after the MTA released its draft plan to overhaul the Queens bus network. The proposal, which many Jackson Heights residents have criticized since its release, is still in the draft phase and is far from being finalized.
The online petition calls on MTA officials to re-work the proposal, which eliminates multiple east-west bus routes that go along Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights.
“The elimination of the Q49, Q33 and Q32 bus routes will have drastic negative impacts on the Jackson Heights community,” the petition reads. “It will prohibit people living within a wide neighborhood from traveling east-west.”
The Q32 currently runs east-west from the 74th Street subway station through 82nd Street along Roosevelt Avenue; the Q33 runs east from the same station until 83rd Street along Roosevelt Avenue; and the Q49 runs east from the 74th Street subway station until 89th Street along 35th Avenue. Under the new plan, these three routes would be scrapped.
“This redesign will create inequity in our neighborhood and leave vulnerable populations stranded, unable to access the subway and the wider community,” the petition reads. “The Jackson Heights community demands that the MTA reconsider the Queens bus route redesign to include more buses in Jackson Heights.”
The plan calls for the three bus lines to be replaced with four new lines. Under the proposal, the Q49 will be replaced by two new routes—the QT 74 and QT 83. The QT 74 will run north-south, from Ditmars Boulevard/Grand Central Parkway to Elmhurst Hospital. The QT 83 will operate between Elmhurst/Woodhaven Boulevard and Howard Beach/156 Avenue.
The Q33 will become the QT75, which will run from 42nd Street/Bryant Park in Manhattan to Broadway/Northern Boulevard in Astoria. The Q32 will be replaced by the QT10, which will run north-south down 82nd Street from LaGuardia Airport to Queens Boulevard/62nd Avenue.
The MTA said in its proposal that it plans to revamp the bus system to improve service reliability, bus speeds and route connections. The proposal said its draft plan for Queens “better aligns with customer travel patterns, ridership demand, and traffic conditions.”
But many people who signed the petition said the MTA should not alter any existing routes connecting to the Roosevelt Avenue/Jackson Heights 7 train station.
“The idea of cancelling these routes is absurd. They’re vital. Always filled with commuters, and I say this firsthand as I rely on them daily,” said one of the petition’s signers.
The MTA said it plans to hold multiple public workshops in the coming months to get feedback on its proposal. Residents can also submit comments to the city’s plans online here.
“We value all of the feedback we get and look forward to our many upcoming events where we will be out in the communities speaking directly with our customers,” said MTA spokesperson Shams Tarek.
The MTA plans on releasing a final draft for the bus network between April and June 2020, according to the proposal. It will then undergo further review.