From the Desk of Lew M. Simon, Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B
Once again, its been a hectic time since my last column. Recently Mayor Bloomberg made a much-awaited announcement that all private franchise busses in Queens would be taken over by the MTA. As you know for many years Southwest Queens and especially Rockaway has not gotten its fair share of good transportation service.
A few years ago the Brooklyn bound Q35 that leaves Beach 116 Street and Newport Avenue was an express bus through Brooklyn to the junction of Flatbush and Nostrand Avenues where many passengers picked up the IRT 2 or 5 train, or went to Brooklyn College. Then the Green lines was ordered by the NYC Department of Transportation to make all local stops along Flatbush Avenue to the end of the line. How many hours have Rockaway residents wasted because of this change?
People have mixed opinions on the takeover. Some think it’s the greatest thing since ice cream. Others remember that the city always gives us the short end of the deal. They remember the Noreaster of 92-93 or a major rain or snowstorm when trains couldn’t run on the tracks between the peninsula and Broad Channel. The MTA is supposed to provide buses to link up with the A train at Rockaway Boulevard. Good luck, it almost never happens.
There are rumors circulating about the new service. The Q21 will be eliminated. The Q53 will become local and add Q21 stops. Our local Q22 service will go from Far Rockaway to Kings Plaza. Rockaway residents will have to transfer to pick up the B41 or B9 to go to the Flatbush Avenue train station.
The next question is about the jobs of the private bus drivers. We have been told that the Triboro bus drivers are covered under the same Local 100 union and a union delegate expects a smooth transition. On the other hand Green Bus drivers are not in Local 100 and are in fear of their jobs. Will the MTA dare to eliminate the jobs of experienced drivers and replace them with new drivers on the waiting list? Will the MTA offer buyouts for the drivers or will they be left with nothing? These are questions with no answers at this time.
We need to be sure that transportation in Southwest Queens will not deteriorate. The buses must roll more frequently. Handicapped buses must be available as needed. We also hope for the job security of all the union employees of the bus lines.
We have received numerous calls and letters regarding the municipal parking lot on Beach 116 Street. Handicapped parking spots have been relocated from the front of the lot at least 80 to 100 feet from the front entrance.
In investigating what is going on I immediately reached out to one of the hardest working and most dedicated city employees, Queens Department of Transportation Commissioner Connie Moran. She is a fantastic, dynamic commissioner who always takes our call or returns our calls in a short amount of time.
Commissioner Moran explained that due to the construction work on the Beach 116 Street Transit Police Station they need the front of the parking lot on the right side of the wall. This area was used by Police and MTA personnel for parking. The left side was used for handicapped parking. The area will be used for dumpsters and construction equipment.
Our first question was why they were starting this at the beginning of our summer season. Why not begin after Labor Day? The other question is why the dumpster and equipment wouldn’t be moved to the far side near the tracks. Commissioner Moran agreed to come down personally with staff members including Director of Engineering John Girardi. She explained that she had a meeting with Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer’s staff, District Manager Jonathan Gaska and the Chamber of Commerce.
On Wednesday at 2 p.m., Connie Moran and John Girardi came and we showed them where we would like to see the dumpster and equipment moved to keep the handicapped parking in an accessible spot. John Girardi said that in order to do that they would have to move a guard railing and some lighting. I said BS. They can move the equipment and keep the handicapped from being treated as second-class citizens.
Girardi brought to my attention that they would soon begin an 18-month project rehabbing the full municipal parking lot. With the May 15 to September 30 rules for parking going into effect this will affect many of our residents who use the lot when they take the train to Manhattan. With the removal of all spots from Beach 126 Street to Beach 139 Streets on Rockaway Beach Boulevard the municipal lot is often used by people who are visiting in those areas.
Connie Moran and John Girardi are reaching out to the MTA to see if my suggestions can be accommodated. Those people who want to find out how the MTA will secure our parking as well as answer questions about the reality of a ferry, potholes, sidewalk violations, missing or illegible traffic or parking signs, speed bumps, needed traffic lights or parking problems are invited to a meeting of the Good Government Regular Democratic Club
don Thursday, May 13. Commissioner Moran will address us at 7:45 p.m. at a Town Hall Meeting. It will be an open forum for all to ask questions and get answers. We urge all to come early seats are limited. We are open to all. The club is located at 112-20 Beach Channel Drive opposite Waldbaums.
Monday evening we presented a Girl Scout plaque to the St. Camillus troop. The new girls received pins and officially became Girl Scouts. It brought back memories of my mother who was a Girl Scout leader in the 1960s.
Our next Atlantic City bus trip will be on Saturday, May 22. We leave at 5:30PM and return at 8AM. The cost of the trip is $30 and you will receive $17 in cash.
Reservations are a must. Call (718) 945-1216.z