Four bus routes in Western Queens began offering new or extended service this past Sunday.
In a statement issued last week, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Bus Company and New York City Transit said the expansions reflected changes spurred by growing neighborhoods and replaced service cuts made during the MTA’s financial crisis back in 2010.
The MTA said expansion of Q103 services into weeknight hours and newly introduced weekend service is in direct response to the growth of residential, business and cultural bases in Astoria and Long Island City.
“With this change we are able to respond to requests for increased transit services in growing areas of Western Queens along the waterfront, including Hunters Point, the Noguchi Museum and Socrates Sculpture Park,” the MTA said in a statement issued on Thursday.
The route connects the Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue No. 7 Train station with the F line stop at 21st Street-Queensbridge. And area officials were pleased, according to a joint statement issued by the office of state Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria).
“This announcement is a milestone for all of us who fought for years to get proper bus service for the growing communities of Astoria and Long Island City,” Gianaris said. “I am thrilled the MTA is finally realizing that Western Queens’ need for increased mass transit is real and pressing.”
Jess Nizar, a senior organizer with the Riders Alliance, said it is an important development for the entire waterfront.
“Reliable public transit means better access to community institutions, jobs and healthcare for waterfront residents,” Nizar said.
Borough President Melinda Katz, Councilmembers Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and Costa Costantinides (D-Astoria) and state Assemblywomen Catherine Nolan (D-Sunnyside) and Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) also praised the expansion.
In addition, the Q19 route has been extended west from its former terminus on Astoria Boulevard at 21st Street to the East River waterfront on 27th Avenue at Second Street.
The change will provide service along the full length of Astoria Boulevard. The MTA said the move serves the dual purpose of better serving the expanding demand in Astoria and offering better connections between eastern and Western Queens.
The MTA said changes to the Q19 also will accommodate those aimed at making the Q102 route a faster one.
The Q102 in Astoria has been adjusted to keep the route on 30th Avenue between Crescent Street and 8th Street.
Former bus stops on Crescent, Newtown Avenue and Astoria Boulevard will be relocated to 30th Avenue. Astoria Boulevard stops now are being served by the Q19.
The Q50 will add a bus stop at Co-op City Boulevard at Dreiser Loop to improve customer access.