City Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) last Friday received a symbol of thanks for his efforts to improve and expand city bus service in the Rockaways.
The Riders Alliance presented Richards with its 2017 Bus Champion Award at a new Q52 bus stop. Beginning Nov. 12, the Q52/Q53 line will become a Select Bus Service route, with service extended into Arverne at 54th Street and Beach Channel Drive; and the Rockaway Park at the Beach 116th Street subway station.
Personnel from the Riders Alliance and the city’s Department of Transportation were on hand at the Friday morning ceremony.
Richards received a trophy with a replica of a city bus atop.
The northern termini of the routes are at 61st Street and Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside (Q52) and at Hoffman Drive and Woodhaven Boulevard in Elmhurst (Q53).
Eric Beaton, deputy commissioner of the DOT’s Division of Traffic Planning and Management, said Richards’ efforts will result in the Q52 extending an additional mile east into the Rockaways.
Many residents, civic and political leaders along neighborhoods straddling Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards, where most of the mainland routes run, have fought vehemently against the city and the changes being made to roads and traffic patterns to accommodate more SBS routes.
They say what bus advocates call “progress” is actually tying up their main north-south traffic artery by reducing the number of lanes and possibly compromising safety in the process.
But Richards, in a statement issued by the Riders Alliance, said it is a major victory for his constituents, who otherwise have few convenient transportation options.
“On our transit-starved peninsula, we need to leverage every opportunity we can to improve commutes for Rockaway residents, and bringing Select Bus Service down to the densest part of the Rockaways was one of those opportunities of which we had to take advantage,” Richards said. “Now on Nov. 12, that dream will finally come true.”
Richards, on behalf of his constituents, thanked the Riders Alliance for its leadership on the initiative and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and her staff for making it a reality.
Stephanie Burgos-Veras, an organizer with the Riders Alliance who grew up in Woodhaven, said she was routinely stuck on slow, unreliable buses when she had a job at the Queens Center mall as a college student.
“Bus riders in Queens have the longest commutes in the entire city,” she said in the group’s press release. “Select Bus Service along the Woodhaven corridor will improve the lives of riders that depend on the Q52 and Q53 to travel within the borough. Without the advocacy and leadership of Council Member Richards, riders would still be stuck on slow and unreliable buses instead of celebrating this progress.”