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Queens Chronicle

Select Bus Service needs fine tuning, some say

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Posted: Thursday, April 30, 2015 2:22 pm

The skepticism over the Department of Transportation’s Select Bus Service project continued onto Cross Bay Boulevard last Wednesday.

Some residents, transportation advocates and transit commuters said it was too early to say how the $200 million plan — which will place a dedicated bus lane for the Q52/53 bus lines along the Woodhaven-Crossbay Boulevard corridor in both directions — would impact traffic, but added that some of the proposal needs to be fine-tuned.

“Overall the plan is great,” said William Horowitz, a Bellerose Manor resident who ran against then-Councilman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) in 2003. “But you need to modify it before the finished product comes out.”

Horowitz, a self-described transportation enthusiast, and about 30 other people were shown the DOT’s plan for Cross Bay Boulevard during group presentations at PS 146 in Howard Beach. The plan for Cross Bay Boulevard includes offset bus lanes located next to parking lanes.

The plan would have two new bus stops for the select bus lines, one at Pitkin Avenue and the other at Linden Boulevard, the secone replacing the one now at Doxey Place.

Where the DOT ran into trouble was when it presented the proposal to ban left turns onto Rockaway Boulevard — a major business corridor that is the home to Resorts World Casino — and have northbound drivers go down 107th Avenue or 103rd Avenue instead, while southbound motorists would use 103rd Avenue.

“You can’t take away that left turn,” Rosemary Ciulla-Frisone, Community Board 10’s Transportation Committee chairwoman, said. “No way.”

Ciulla-Frisone, who recently retired from the DOT, was not the only one to blast that part of the plan.

Horowitz, too, said it was a bad idea.

“That’s not going to fly,” the former Republican candidate said.

Sal Isabella, a Woodhaven resident who frequently takes public transportation, also said the turn ban is “totally uncalled for.”

“It needs to be totally laid out differently,” Isabella said.

Although some put their foot down on not having the left turn banned, they were not ready to slam the entire plan altogether.

“Is it really going to work?” Ciulla-Frisone asked. “I don’t want to say right now.”

Ciulla-Frisone and Horowitz said they liked the idea of SBS and wanted to see how the proposals would play out.

Transit rider Pierre Phillippe, who takes the J train to the Q52/53 buses, also wants to wait and see how it’s going to play out but expressed optimism toward the plan reducing his and others time on the bus.

Phillippe said the DOT’s proposal was the best out of the three it was considering over the past few months.

“It’s not removing parking at all,” he said. “I think of the three options it’s the best.”

Further north on Woodhaven Boulevard, several sections of parking would be eliminated.

When asked if his shortened bus ride would come at the cost of thousands of drivers up and down the corridor, Phillippe said that is yet to be determined.

“We’re going to have to see how the DOT is going to mitigate that,” he said.

And while most were on the fence about the plan as a whole, CB 10’s Chairwoman Betty Braton expressed a negative attitude toward the plan.

“Some of their proposals don’t make any sense,” Braton said. “Overall, I don’t think people are pleased.”

Braton said many of her questions, such as what is the average amount of drivers who use Woodhaven-Cross Bay Boulevard corridor are, were left unanswered.

Braton, referring to U.S. Census data, pointed out that many people in her district use their cars to get to work and believes they will continue to do so even after the SBS plan is implemented in 2018.

“The buses aren’t taking them to where they want to go,” she said. “It makes no sense from that viewpoint.”

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park) also questioned the necessity for a dedicated bus lane in the Cross Bay Boulevard section of the corridor.

“That’s the one stretch of the corridor where there is a minor amount of traffic congestion,” Goldfeder said.

In a sitdown interview with the Queens Chronicle two weeks ago, Goldfeder said he does not think SBS will decrease the number of cars on the corridor.

“I don’t think it’s going to work,” the assemblyman said.

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