THE COMMUTE: The first Woodhaven / Cross Bay Select Bus Service (SBS) newsletter has been released. It claims to provide the latest updated information on the project. However, all it does is reiterate the same information that had previously been provided.
The DOT promised, at an April workshop, to provide on their website a complete list of all locations where left turns will be banned. This newsletter does not do that, nor does it answer any of the questions asked at the workshops, or list which bus stops in Rockaway and Broad Channel are slated for removal. At each of the four workshops held this past spring, only a partial list of banned left turns was available for inspection. The proposed elimination of bus stops in Rockaway and Broad Channel were only revealed at the final workshop in Rockaway.
If you did not attend the Rockaway workshop or read the local newspapers, you would not know which bus stops are slated for removal or which left turns will be banned. They were never publicly announced. Neither does the newsletter provide answers to the 60 questions asked by the Queens Public Transit Committee, which were handed to project leader Eric Beaton at the third workshop (held in Howard Beach in April), and witnessed by State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. Traffic data promised in March still has not been provided.
The DOT and the MTA are intentionally withholding information that the communities need to make an intelligent decision regarding this plan. Why should one have had to attend all four workshops to learn all the details and why aren’t all facets of the proposal clearly spelled out on the internet?
Observed Sunday On Woodhaven Boulevard
This past Sunday, June 7 at 1pm, about 75 cars were waiting to make a left turn in each direction onto Metropolitan Avenue — two of the 24 turning movements the DOT plans to eliminate with the introduction of SBS in 2018. The only turning movements the DOT indicated they may reconsider not banning is the left turn onto Jamaica Avenue, after allegations by the community that heavy trucks would be forced onto residential streets.
At 9pm on the same Sunday evening, all eight lanes were observed being heavily utilized with cars queuing back a full block at Furmanville Avenue on the red signal. Under DOT’s plan, through traffic would be reduced to only two lanes in each direction, most likely doubling the length of that queue. This would double travel times for cars by reducing the average travel speed from 30 to 15 mph. Cars accounted for about 90 percent of the passenger traffic and close to 100 percent of the vehicular traffic. How do exclusive bus lanes make sense on a Sunday evening? This is true Zero Vision by DOT.
The 10 questions l asked regarding the proposed B46 SBS were sent to the MTA via email and the following response was received.
We will continue to forward copies of your suggestions to our planning department for review and consideration. However, it is important to understand that we cannot specifically respond to individual suggestions from our customers regarding service modifications and new bus routes.
When I wrote back reminding them I had asked questions and did not submit suggestions, I received the following:
We regret any misunderstanding. We forwarded your questions to our planning personnel…Status: Closed
Forwarding questions for a response should not close out the issue. It should be marked “pending” until a further response is received.
I also sent an email requesting to know when the first year analysis for the B44 SBS, now six months overdue, would be released. Here is that response:
We forwarded your email to our planning personnel…Status: Closed
If the DOT restores one or two of the proposed 24 left turn bans, that does not constitute adequate community participation for the Woodhaven Boulevard SBS. Failure to issue a B44 SBS first year assessment after more than 18 months in operation and refusing to say when it will be released is being totally non-responsive. Proceeding with the B46 and Woodhaven Boulevard SBS routes without first resolving problems on existing SBS routes, as I have repeatedly pointed out, and refusing to answer questions from the community or provide promised traffic data is unconscionable.
Our elected officials have also ignored my plea for a series of town hall meetings requiring the MTA and DOT to provide answers.
The Commute is a weekly feature highlighting news and information about the city’s mass transit system and transportation infrastructure. It is written by Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of MTA/NYC Transit Bus Planning (1981).
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