Let The MTA Know What You Need
Earlier this week, I received the following from the MTA Bus Company. It is reprinted below in its whole, outrageous entirety.
“This is in response to your letter to MTA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jay H. Walder, requesting express bus service between the Rockaways and Lower Manhattan. You indicated that since the termination of the Rockaway Ferry in July 2010, there has been no mass transportation between these points.
Our Operations Planning Department reviewed your request. Unfortunately, the lack of a direct highway path from the Rockaways to Downtown Manhattan means that such express bus service would not be efficient, particularly in comparison to the current service provided by the A train. Specifically, buses are currently prohibited from using the Belt Parkway east of Knapp Street.
However, please note that with a Metro Card, QM16 and QM17 express bus customers may transfer to and from connecting subways and buses in Midtown Manhattan to access Lower Manhattan, for no additional fare.
Thank you for taking the time to write. I hope this information is helpful to you.”
The author of this letter, one Darryl C. Irick, Acting President, MTA Bus, really must be kidding. Nothing about the information in his letter is “helpful.” To the contrary, this is one more example of the City turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the needs of Rockaway residents. Let’s analyze Mr. Irick’s points one by one. First, he says that we cannot have express bus service to Lower Manhattan because buses can’t go on the Belt Parkway. His point is irrelevant to the issue. This same argument was made when I met with Mr. Norman Silverman, head of MTA bus scheduling, at a meeting arranged by City Councilman Eric Ulrich last November. Here is the reply that was made on behalf of Rockaway commuters, a reply that was ignored by the MTA:
“This is a follow-up to our meeting in Councilman Ulrich’s office last week. You will recall that one of the items we discussed was downtown express bus service. Mr. Silverman noted that express buses cannot run on the Belt Parkway.
However, express bus service could successfully be run as follows: start at Beach 116th Street and travel west with a last pick-up in Rockaway at Beach 169 Street; from Beach 169 Street make a direct run (no stops) up Flatbush Avenue to Avenue U to Ocean Avenue; from there, follow the current BM3 route [BM3 map available at www.mta.info] directly (no stops) into downtown Manhattan; in downtown Manhattan, make the same stops that the BM3 bus currently does.
This would not involve reinventing the wheel. Rather, it would merely extend to the transportation-starved residents of Rockaway the same type of downtown express bus service that is currently enjoyed by the residents of Brooklyn neighborhoods (who are not starved for public transportation alternatives).
Therefore, on behalf of the many Rockaway commuters who travel to and from downtown Manhattan each day, I respectfully reiterate my plea to you, and to Mr. Silverman, to implement downtown express bus service from Rockaway.”
Mr. Irick’s second point is that express bus service from Rockaway to Lower Manhattan would not be as “efficient” as “the current service provided by the A train.” Ask Lew Simon about “the current service provided by the A train.” Ask anyone in the Rockaways. The A train is unreliable and unsafe. How many times this winter alone has the A train been out of service due to ice and other weather conditions, leaving Rockaway residents stranded? The one word that can NEVER be used to describe A train service from the Rockaways is “efficient.”
Finally, Mr. Irick would have us note that Rockaway residents can take the QM16 and QM17 express buses from Rockaway to Midtown Manhattan, and then transfer to a subway to get to Lower Manhattan. How is that a viable solution for those of us who travel to Lower Manhattan every day? If you go to www.mta.info and look up the schedule for the QM16/17, for example, you will see that if you get on the express bus at Beach 116 Street on a weekday morning at 6:07 a.m., you will arrive at East 34 Street and 3rd Avenue in Midtown Manhattan at 7:05 a.m. It’s the same if you take the QM17 from Far Rockaway; you get on at Mott Avenue at 6:10 a.m. and you arrive at East 34 Street and 3rd Avenue at 7:15 a.m. In either case, you will then have to walk over to East 33 Street and Lexington Avenue to catch the number 6 subway, which is a local train. You can then change at 14th Street for the number 4 or 5 express trains, which will take you to Lower Manhattan. Estimating from the subway schedules on the mta.info website, and taking into account walking time, you’d get to Lower Manhattan at around 7:30 a.m. You’ve now spent about an hour and a half, and had to change from a bus to two trains. That’s supposed to be “efficient”?
The way that the MTA is ignoring the needs of Rockaway commuters cannot go on. Rockaway residents are urged to write to Darryl C. Irick, Acting President, MTA Bus Company, 2 Broadway, New York, NY 10004- 2207, and tell him so. Also, please continue to email Jim.Harding@mtabusco.com and Diane.Bobetsky@mtabusco.com EVERY TIME you experience a problem on the Q35, either during the morning or evening rush, or anytime during the day in between, briefly describe the problem or combination of problems (overcrowding, scheduling issues, buses that bypassed your stop and left you stranded, or any other trouble). Include the date, time, and the bus number (four-digit bus numbers – for example3527–areprintedinside the bus, over the front windshield). All of us need to let the MTA know that the residents of the Rockaways are literally being left out in the cold.