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New Flushing Busway To Go Into Effect Next Week: Mayor

(DOT)

Jan. 13, 2021 By Michael Dorgan

The controversial new Flushing busway will go into effect on Jan. 19 at 6 a.m., Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday.

The 1-year pilot program will see a 0.6 mile stretch of Main Street – from Northern Boulevard to Sanford Avenue – converted into a busway in order to speed up bus services along the busy commercial route.

The announcement follows a failed last-ditch legal attempt by a group of local businesses to halt the move.

De Blasio said that the new busway would bring faster and more reliable service to downtown Flushing without the loss of parking spaces. He said that the new layout would also help businesses by improving truck delivery times.

“Mass transit is the present and future of this city,” de Blasio said in a statement. “New Yorkers deserve better bus service, and today I’m proud to transform the way New Yorkers access an iconic Queens neighborhood.”

The busway is part of the mayor’s Better Buses Restart plan which aims to improve slow and unpredictable bus speeds across the city. The city estimates that around 155,000 bus riders traverse Main Street every day.

De Blasio touted other busways that were implemented across the city under the Better Buses Restart plan.

“Successes like the 14th Street Busway in Manhattan and the Jay Street Busway in Brooklyn have proven that these initiatives work,” he said.

“I can’t wait to build on this project and expand faster, more reliable transit options to even more neighborhoods this year.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio at City Hall on Jan. 13 (Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

The city finally got the go-ahead with its plans for the Flushing busway last week after a Queens Supreme Court judge dismissed claims by a group of businesses that the busway would reduce private traffic into the area and cut into their bottom line.

The Flushing Chinese Business Association (FCBA) had argued that the busway would deter customers from coming to the busy shopping zone.

Under the layout, only buses, trucks, and emergency vehicles would be permitted to travel along Main Street from Northern Boulevard to Sanford Avenue and along a portion of Kissena Boulevard, according to the plans.

Passenger vehicles would only be permitted to use the busway for garage access and for pick-up or drop-off within one block.

New signage and markings have already been put down while the DOT will install bus lane cameras at a later date. Drivers who violate the new rules during the first 60 days of the camera’s going into effect will be issued with warning letters and then a fines system will be used.

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Larry Penner

Something even more important is still missing. Everyone has forgotten about the need for a new downtown Flushing Bus Terminal. There was seed money in the previous MTA $32 billion 2015 – 2019 Capital Plan to look into the possibility of the long forgotten Flushing Bus Terminal, which closed in 1954. It was originally located adjacent to the corner of Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue near the old Woolworth Department store. There is no indication that these dollars have been spent. This need has been previously documented in planning studies going back to the 1960’s. For 57 years, generations of public officials, on a bipartisan basis, have failed to secure any funding necessary to support environmental review, design, engineering and construction of this badly needed transportation improvement.

Construction of a bus terminal could assist in improving traffic and pedestrian circulation in downtown Flushing. Over 60,000 rush hour NYC Transit #7 subway riders and thousands more off peak would benefit.

(Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for billions in capital projects and programs for the MTA, NYC Transit, Long Island and Metro North Rail Roads, MTA Bus, NYC Department of Transportation along with 30 other transit agencies in NY & NJ)

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