Jan. 17, 2020 By Kristen Torres (Updated Jan. 20)
The MTA says it’s listening–and that Jackson Heights residents have been heard loud and clear.
MTA officials said Friday that they will re-work the bus routes that link to the 74th Street Subway Station in Jackson Heights– among other network changes.
The current draft plan, which was released Dec. 31, proposed to remove multiple east-west bus routes heading to and from the 74th Street station.
“I’ve been in Jackson Heights a lot recently, and have heard from customers about the route changes in the draft plan,” said Craig Cipriano, acting president of the MTA bus company.
“People want access to the 74th Street subway station because of accessibility issues, and we’re going to go back and incorporate those concerns in the next draft,” he said.
The plan, although in its early stages, came under fire in Jackson Heights over recent weeks—specifically for the removal of east-west bus service along Roosevelt Avenue from 74th to 83rd Street.
But Cipriano said the new bus routes are far from being finalized, and will be altered following rider input over the next few months.
“What you see today and what will be implemented eventually will be different,” Cipriano said. “We didn’t get everything right on first go around—we knew that; we knew we needed more feedback.”
Officials also said they have added additional community meetings in eastern Queens, including one in Bayside and another in Bellerose.
“We are proud to go where people are working and living and carrying out their day-to-day lives,” said Lucille Songhai, director of community affairs for the MTA.
Songhai said additional meetings are being planned throughout March, including presentations at colleges, senior centers and community boards.
“The biggest thing we’ve noticed is that misinformation about the plan is out there,” Songhai said. “We’re focusing on educating riders about what the new draft plan actually entails and how commutes will be affected.”
The announced changes come amid disapproval of the draft plan by some local lawmakers and civic groups. Council Member Costa Constantinides penned a letter to MTA President Andy Byford earlier this month and said he was disappointed in the public outreach process being carried out by MTA officials.
Assembly member Michael DenDekker, who represents Jackson Heights, also said in a statement on Jan. 7 that he was “alarmed by some of the changes to bus routes.”
The MTA is currently redesigning the entire Queens bus network–the first time any significant changes have been made to the nearly century-old bus system. MTA officials insist the project is still a work in progress.