Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) brought his fight for faster bus service along the Woodhaven-Cross Bay Boulevard corridor to the steps of City Hall on Tuesday morning.
Backed by members and leadership of the Riders Alliance, Richards brought more than 5,000 petitions from bus riders along the corridor, all asking the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the city’s Department of Transportation to dedicate the money and manpower to establish a Bus Rapid Transit route.
A proposal that would link the Long Island Rail Road station in Woodside with Far Rockaway already is undergoing serious study by both agencies and has been the subject of numerous public and civic meetings.
Richards said more than 30,000 residents living along the corridor rely on bus service every day, and that Select Bus Service already provided in other parts of the city prove that it can be successful.
“Protected bus lanes and center median stations will help make one of the most dangerous and extensive transportation corridors in the city more safe, reliable and equitable for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike,” Richards said Tuesday in a prepared statement.
John Raskin, executive director of the mass transit advocacy group Riders Alliance, was part of a large contingent from his group at City Hall.
“Way too many New Yorkers — particularly those in the outer boroughs — are suffering from long commutes and limited public transportation options,” Raskin said.
He added that the proposed BRT line “will be a particular help to low-income commuters and to the hundreds of thousands of people who spend way too much of their lives stuck on frustrating, slow-moving buses.”
While Richards predictably has lined up support from within the Council’s Queens delegation, his most important ally may be Transportation Committee Chairman Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan) who called BRT a “vital service” in the joint statement with Richards.
Richards said Council members Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst), Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) and Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) all have signed a letter to the MTA and DOT supporting the route.
Constantinides, a member of the Transportation Committee, said in Richards’ release that “BRT is an affordable, environmentally friendly and quick way to move our residents from one part of Queens to another,” he said. Ulrich also pointed to the success of Select Bus Service in an interview.
“There is huge potential for Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevard,” he said.
Councilman Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans), also on the Transportation Committee, is a former MTA bus operator who served as head of a transit union for five years before taking office.
In a telephone conversation on Tuesday, Miller said he has doubts that the MTA is prepared to dedicate the funding that he said would be necessary for the required infrastructure upgrades.