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Queens Chronicle

Residents Vow Fight To Restore Weekend Service On Q42 Bus

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Posted: Thursday, May 3, 2001 12:00 am

In the mid-1990s, public transportation in New York City was in a bind. With ridership down and funding at recession levels, New York City Transit trimmed service on a number of subway and bus lines.

The Q42 bus line, which runs from Jamaica Center to 180th Street and Sayres Avenue, was not spared and had its weekend and holiday service halted.

In 2001, the picture is substantially different. With the introduction of the MetroCard, ridership has exploded throughout the system. Flush with more income and government subsidies, the transit authority has restored service on bus lines around the city.

But the transportation boom has not reached the Q42 and local leaders say they will continue to fight for restored service.

“The transit authority has the money now, so there is no reason why they can’t bring back the Q42,” said Manuel Caughman of Springfield Gardens.

Adding insult to injury, Caughman said, the transit authority regularly tests its buses’ brakes at night and on the weekends in the very same area where the service was cut.

“Now that just doesn’t make sense to us,” he said.

Southeast Queens residents who regularly use the line say that the Q42 is a vital link for seniors and people who can’t afford to buy a car.

“There are a lot of people who go to church on Sunday and need that bus,” said Emma Porter, who has been living in Jamaica for 21 years. “You can walk to catch the Q5 on Merrick Boulevard, but some seniors can’t walk that half-mile.”

Safety is also an issue. Because late evening service can run every 20 to 30 minutes, some riders say they are concerned about waiting on the street after dark.

Monica Blenman, who has lived in Jamaica for 17 years, said that she has been mugged at knifepoint while waiting for the Q42 after work.

“The service is very slow at night, and you are just sitting there like a target for criminals,” Blenman said.

As a result of the infrequent service, riders have turned to the private van lines that service much of Southeast Queens.

“But even the vans don’t bring us as close to our houses as the Q42 does,” Porter said. “You still have to be careful at night.”

Caughman, who is president of the Brinkerhoff Action Association, said that his organization has been contacting local elected and transit officials since 1995 to urge restoration of the weekend and holiday service.

Councilman Archie Spigner wrote a letter to transit officials to press the case and Senator Malcolm Smith said that he has spoken to MTA officials about the Q42.

“I don’t see why this hasn’t been restored yet,” said Yvonne Reddick, district manager of Community Board 12. “It was terrible to just cut the transportation for these people on the weekends.”

Deirdre Parker, a transit authority spokeswoman, said that a recent Division of Operations Planning study concluded that ridership on the Q42 was too low to justify adding weekend and holiday service.

“Although we will continue to monitor the Q42, at this time, we still feel that it would not be economically viable to bring the service back,” she said. “We don’t feel it would attract enough weekend and holiday riders to make it feasible.”

Asked for comment on why the transit authority tests buses along the same route where service was cut, Parker did not return several calls before press time.

According to New York City Transit data, the Q42 line is the fourth least-busy of Queens’ 38 bus lines. As of September 2000, some 2,011 residents rode the bus each day.

None of the lines that are less busy than the Q42–the Q26, Q75 and the Q79–have weekend or holiday service.

But the next busiest line, the Q14 in Whitestone and Flushing, does have weekend and holiday service. As of last September, 2,228 riders used the bus each day–only 217 more than the Q42.

Since 1997, ridership on the Q42 has increased by 15.7 percent.

Measured by the total miles traveled, service increases on the Q42 have actually outpaced ridership growth. Between September 1997 and September 2000, buses traveled an additional 1,900 miles on the Q42, translating to a 17.0 percent increase in service.

Senator Smith said that a transportation ridership study that he requested from the MTA could provide data that would justify restoring service to the Q42.

“A lot of new housing has been built in Southeast Queens in recent years,” Smith said. “Once the study is complete, I have the feeling it will show a sizeable increase in ridership.”

Welcome to the discussion.