They’re going to need a bigger bus.
And because of that, bigger stops.
And that means fewer parking spots for those who live in the neighborhoods near Lefferts Boulevard.
The Q10 — which runs mostly along Lefferts Boulevard — is one of the busiest bus routes in the borough, according to the MTA. It connects Kew Gardens with JFK Airport and is used by many airport workers who live in Central Queens. It is also used by commuters from South Ozone Park and Richmond Hill to access the subway at Liberty Avenue and Queens Boulevard and Union Turnpike at its northern terminus.
At rush hour, buses commonly run every two to four minutes and there is also limited service with stops only at major thoroughfares like Metropolitan and Liberty avenues and Rockaway Boulevard.
The route is popular with pilots and flight attendants who ride the bus from their homes in Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park to their jobs at all hours of the day and night. The Q10’s southern terminus is at Terminal 5 in the airport.
Because of the line’s popularity, the MTA decided to run some articulated buses — the longer vehicles that are sometimes referred colloquially to as “artics,” “accordian buses” or “double buses” — along the route. The first Q10 artic buses ran on the Lefferts Boulevard route Monday.
But the bigger buses mean the need for bigger stops, and that is not sitting well from some community leaders, who say street parking in the neighborhoods along Lefferts Boulevard is hard enough already.
Further, many, including Community Board 9 District Manager Mary Ann Carey, are also furious the MTA made the decision with little to no consultation with the community.
“We were not informed of the removal of the parking meters and the extension of the bus pad to accommodate these larger buses,” Carey wrote to MTA President Tom Prendergast last week. “If not for an inquiring constituent, we would know nothing of this major upheaval. You did this without consideration of the impact on the business and residential communities along Lefferts Boulevard which are drastically affected by the change.”
Betty Braton, chairwoman of Community Board 10, also expressed outrage at not being notified sooner of the change.
“CB 10 has expressed to both MTA Bus and the DOT our concern that no advance notification to us was provided,” she said. “Any time there are changes in bus stops on our commercial strips or in our residential areas people ought to have an opportunity to know of them in advance. Affected businesses and residents ought to have an opportunity to offer their comments or suggestions before, rather than after, any action by any governmental agency.”
Carey notes CB 9 has long advocated for more service on the Q10 line, but urged the MTA to hold off until it can meet with the CBs 9 and 10.
Artic buses are common in Manhattan and Brooklyn, but there have been very few in Queens until recently. Not every bus on the Q10 will be an artic. MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said the agency will “sprinkle” the artics along the line, meaning they are only to be used sparingly. But the elongated bus stops are permanent and so are the loss of the parking spots.
Ortiz said the agency collaborated with the city Department of Transportation over how to extend the bus pads.
“This has been carefully reviewed by the DOT, who has traffic regulatory authority including bus stop revision,” Ortiz said. “They are mindful of the concerns related to loss of parking, which are generally few, but again, artic conversion on selected high-volume routes is needed to provide more efficient service.”
The MTA has been utilizing artics along the busy Q44 route, which runs from Jamaica, through Flushing and into the Bronx. Recently, the agency has employed the buses along Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards for its Q52 route between Queens Center mall and Arverne in the Rockaways. Ortiz said the new buses were sent there due to a spike in usage along that route since the A train has been out of service across Jamaica Bay due to damage from Hurricane Sandy.
The Q6 line, which runs along Sutphin and Rockaway boulevards from Downtown Jamaica to JFK Airport’s cargo area, will also get some artic buses due to high ridership, Ortiz added.