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City Council approves legislation to tackle bus congestion on public streets of downtown Flushing

Oct. 24, 2023 By Bill Parry

The City Council has given the green light to resuscitate a decades old plan to finally tackle the chronic bus congestion that has plagued Flushing streets for years.

Legislation sponsored by Council Member Sandra Ung was passed on Oct. 19 requiring the creation of a task force to identify potential locations for a bus transit center close enough to downtown Flushing to eliminate the need for buses to park on public streets. In addition to alleviating congestion, a bus transit center will provide a designated and secure place for riders to enter and exit buses and protect them from inclement weather. It will also offer a comfortable space for drivers to take breaks during their routes.

Council Member Sandra Ung passed legislation that will revisit an old plan to deal with bus congestion in downtown Flushing. Photo courtesy of Ung’s office

“Flushing is not just a bustling transit hub for northeast Queens residents, it is the busiest bus-to-train transfer location in the mass transit system, making it a crucial connection point for our city,” Ung said. “But the current situation in Flushing, with out-of-service buses parked on city streets, creates crippling congestion and potential public safety hazards. The need for a bus transit center in Flushing has been acknowledged since the idea was first proposed in the 1960s, but it never materialized. I am proud to pass legislation that will finally set in motion a process to make this common-sense idea a reality.”

Council Member Sandra Ung passed legislation that will revisit an old plan to deal with bus congestion in downtown Flushing. Photo courtesy of Ung’s office

The DOT commissioner or a designee will serve as chair of the task force. Membership will include the commissioner of the Department of City Planning or a designee, and five members appointed by the mayor. The mayor may also invite any relevant stakeholders, such as the MTA or other agencies at the city, state or federal level, to take part. Flushing is the busiest bus-to-train transfer hub in the New York City Transit system. Approximately 20 MTA bus routes pass through or begin and end in downtown Flushing, in addition to the NICE buses that service areas of Nassau County, where commuters then transfer to other routes, the 7 train, or the Long Island Railroad.

“Building a bus transit center in Flushing will not be cheap or quick, and it will likely require funding from city, state, and federal government,” Ung said. “But we can’t begin to advocate for or allocate those funds without a pragmatic proposal, which is where the task force comes in.”

Council Member Sandra Ung passed legislation that will revisit an old plan to deal with bus congestion in downtown Flushing. Photo courtesy of Ung’s office

Until the mid-1940’s, a bus transit center existed at the intersection of Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue, but it was replaced by a large department store. In the 1970’s, then-state Sen. Leonard Stavisky proposed building a bus transit center on what was then Municipal Lot 1 at Union Street and 39th Avenue, but the proposal stalled. The idea was revived over the years by various elected officials and civic leaders, but the transit center never materialized.

“I am not the first person to envision a bus depot in Flushing, but the fact is the need for one still exists,” Ung said. “Delaying the construction of a bus transit center has only made the situation worse, as the number of buses has increased while possible locations to house this crucial facility diminish due to development.”

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