The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is close to approving a new bus route that would offer more direct service to LaGuardia Airport while cutting the existing Q33 route short to focus more on neighborhood riders.
The proposed Q70 Limited line — “a new faster and more direct route to LaGuardia” — would run from transit hubs in Woodside and Jackson Heights along the 7 subway line on Roosevelt Avenue and provide a shorter link with the airport.
The existing Q33 line, which serves as a feeder line for the subways in the area, would be stopped outside the airport at 95th Street.
A public hearing was held last month, though the recommendation had its genesis in a joint study carried out by the MTA and the New York City Department of Transportation in 2009.
Deidre Parker of the MTA said final recommendations would be given to the agency’s board members for meetings scheduled for June 3 and 5.
If approved, the new routes would go into effect in early September.
A staff report presented to the MTA board in March outlined the difficulties inherent in a bus line that serves both local transit customers and the airport.
Both formal analysis and customer feedback pointed out that the Q33 often is subjected to unpredictable delays along its route.
As a local subway feeder route, it must travel side streets and sometimes one-way residential streets that can be blocked with double-parked vehicles and other hazards, thus adding to delays.
Passengers from the community who are traveling back and forth to the subway lines can be inconvenienced by airport passengers who are carrying luggage, which takes up considerable space.
Turnaround time back from the airport can vary greatly depending on traffic and airport security requirements.
“Shortening the Q33 would ... allow the Q33 to better serve its primary ridership in the local communities to and from the subway, separate local community riders from airport ridership and the associated luggage, and improve reliability on the Q33 by providing recovery times at both ends of the route,” the internal report states.
Currently only 3 percent of the line’s ridership, or 300 people per day, travel between the local community and the airport, with a lesser number on weekends, the MYTA says.
The Q70, on the other hand, is estimated to have the ability to cut travel time from Jackson Heights to the airport by 40 percent by bypassing local stops and traffic delays.
It also would allow for new bus connections with the Long Island Rail Road and the 7 express subway line at Woodside.
The report states that the new route could cut travel time between Midtown Manhattan and LaGuardia to 35 minutes and that direct connections to the Woodside LIRR station would open direct LaGuardia access to eight LIRR branches that currently have no direct access.
City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said the MTA’s rationale makes sense.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Dromm said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “It would give people the advantage of getting to the airport quicker, and still offer convenience for neighborhood residents who wanted to get to 94th Street. And the ride won’t cost people more.”
While there would be some cost to the MTA, officials said some of the increase would be partially offset by shortening the Q33 route.