2006-03-03 / Community

MTA Adds New Buses; Looks To Improve Local Service

By Miriam Rosenberg Contributing Editor

By Miriam Rosenberg
Contributing Editor

With the transfer of the private bus companies to the MTA Bus Company now complete, the MTA has begun to replace old buses and improve service along the routes once run by the franchise companies.

“Every company [the MTA took over] already has new buses,” said Mercedes Padilla, a spokesperson for the MTA. “New buses went into service right away.

“We expect that by fall, more brand new buses will be added to the fleets,” continued Padilla.

Forty-two buses – 15 new buses and 30 rehabbed – have been added to the old Green Bus Lines routes.

“It is the first time in five years full service is available for riders [on those routes],” Padilla told The Wave.

Eleven new buses – five new ones and six rehabbed ones – have been added to the routes once served by Jamaica Buses. Finally, 109 buses – 41 new buses on express routes and 68 rehabbed buses for local service – were added to the old Triboro Coach routes.

By the end of 2006, the deliveries of 140 new express buses should be complete. The delivery of 284 buses purchased for local service will begin in mid-2006 and be completed in the first quarter of 2007.

All the new buses are handicapped accessible as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The new buses are also more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly.

Padilla also said “There are no immediate route changes and the numbers of the buses will remain the same.”

Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer has been working closely with the MTA Bus Company since the takeovers.

“We talked about different things in our first meeting,” said Pheffer about her meeting with the president of the MTA Bus Company, Thomas Savage.

Pheffer said Savage told her he would be fixing up the garages in Arverne with new blacktop, fencing and lights for security.

They also discussed ways to make the trip from Rockaway to Manhattan faster.

“When it comes to more service, they do an analysis of the routes every couple of months,” Pheffer told The Wave.

“When the buses were franchised [by the city], they had to go through a long process to make changes,” the assemblywoman explained. “[The MTA] has the power to make change without going through a long process.”

Currently, Pheffer said, they are working to enhance service on the QM16 and QM17 buses.

The proposal will increase the QM16 to three roundtrips and the QM17 to four roundtrips per day.

Pheffer and her staff are also looking at ways to give passengers one-stop transfers to Nassau County Buses. A stop at the corner of Mott and Central Avenues could accommodate people transferring to and from the Q113, Q22 and Nassau County Buses the N31, N32 and Long Island City N33.

In May 2004, a report called the New York City Department of Transportation Bus Ridership and Route Analysis contained recommendations to improve the then private bus lines.

While the data was collected between October 30 and December 15, 2002, the final report said, “Findings of this study will be relevant regardless of who and how the service is operated after July 1, 2004.” July 1, 2004 was the original date the private lines were to be turned over to the city.

Some recommendations, such as extending the Q22 into Brooklyn and eliminating the Q35 have been talked about for years.

Among the suggestions for the Q53 were that the route would be renamed the Q53LTD and no longer have express service along the length of Woodhaven Boulevard south of Ozone Park.

Pointing out the overcrowding seen on the Q113 Jamaica line, the report suggested increasing the frequency of service on the Q113 Express bus (to be renamed the Q113LTD) during a.m. and p.m. peak periods and have some rerouting to decrease travel time. The Q113 would have limited service along Guy R. Brewer Boulevard and increased service during late afternoons and early evenings on Saturdays.

The report also addressed the recurring problem of overcrowding by recommending to increase the frequency of service, provide additional service on a limited stop basis as a supplement to regular service or use articulated (60-foot) buses.

So far, the reaction to the takeover is mixed.

Delores Sadler, who was waiting for the Q22 on Beach 116 Street on Tuesday, said, “I think it comes faster, and the drivers are more polite.”

Monique Wiggins who uses the Q113 to come from Ozone Park to Far Rockaway said “it’s not better, it’s not worse.”

Wiggins recalled two weeks ago she waited an hour for a bus from Mott Avenue to Jamaica while five buses heading to Seagirt Boulevard passed her and others by.

The consolidation of the bus companies began on January 3, 2005 when Liberty Lines Express became the first of the companies to come under MTA control.

The three bus lines affecting the Rockaways – Jamaica Bus, Green Bus Lines and Triboro Coach – were the last to be transferred to the MTA beginning in January, 2006. Triboro became part of the MTA on February 20.

Pheffer encouraged riders to get in touch with her office, at 718 945-9550, to report any problems or give any suggestions on the bus service in the Rockaways.

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