MTA gets blowback over plan to overhaul bus network in Queens

JACKSON HEIGHTS, Queens (WABC) -- The MTA is getting blowback over its plan to overhaul the bus network in Queens.

Bus riders showed up to a meeting Wednesday night to make it clear they don't want their bus lines to change and they don't want to be taken far away from connection subway stations.

The line outside wrapped around the block with countless riders waiting to get inside the MTA town hall meeting.

The purpose of the meeting was so the MTA could get feedback from riders about its proposal to overhaul the borough's bus network.

Based on the turnout by the riders, they let the MTA know they do not support the overhaul.

"We have a really robust unbelievable bus network here that if you're elderly, have children, have bags, you never have to get on the subway," said transportation activist Jim Burke. "What's the new plan? Bring you to the nearest subway."

"The bus they want you to take is going to take you to the 7 train that has no elevator or escalator," Nuala O'Doherty-Naranjo said,

"Jackson Heights is a diverse community that has elders, children, people with many incapacities and there are so many people who depend on these buses," Cilia Trejos said.

Riders say the problem is the proposal would eliminate direct routes to the Roosevelt Avenue-Jackson Heights station. This is one of the busiest transit hubs in the entire system.

The Q33, the Q32, the Q29, Q49, Q66, and Q53 will all be impacted by the plan.

"The Q49 is being completely eliminated which is the lifeblood to this community," said NY State Assemblyman Michael DenDekker. "Besides that they're changing the Q66 which wouldn't go to Astoria anymore. We have parents and children that need to go to Astoria because that's where their school is."

NYC Transit President Andy Byford was there to hear the concerns.

"Nothing is set in stone. This is not a final plan," he said. "It's the very, very, very, early stage in the process. So we're here to listen. I could've just sent my team. I don't operate like that. I want to come out and see you."

The MTA says the overhaul of bus networks is to address changes in ridership and demand. Many routes have not changed in decades.

The goal is to create more direct routes, improve reliability and frequency of service.

It will be months before a final plan is released. Until then, Byford says he'll be listening.

----------
* More Queens news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
*Follow us on YouTube
*
Copyright © 2020 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.