Tens of thousands of Queens commuters have sent in comments online and through social media, and hundreds are packing town halls, MTA officials said.
One of the revamp’s masterminds claims he is pleased by all the feedback, no matter how vitriolic.
“There’s been colorful language,” acknowledged Mark Holmes, chief officer for bus operations and planning.
“Most of the feedback would be considered negative,” he added, “but we see that as positive because we want this to be a customer-led initiative.”
The overhaul — 77 local and 30 express routes, with the overall number staying roughly the same — should make for more reliable service, shorter travel times and better connections, Holmes said.
When the MTA launched the retool last spring, he said, planners wiped the slate clean. They evaluated traffic patterns, demographics, bus speed and ridership as well as conducted passenger surveys — online and in-person — and hosted open houses.
The biggest outcry is coming from neighborhoods that would lose buses. One is Jackson Heights, which is particularly worried about less service at the huge 74th Street-Roosevelt Avenue subway station.
Right now, 74th Street has six routes; the redesign puts the number at four. The goal, according to the MTA, is to eliminate redundancy and simplify the network.
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A petition on Change.org to save the routes has almost 3,800 signatures.
“They recently said they’re eliminating routes that are ‘REDUNDANT’ pffftttt,” Barbara Camwell ranted on Facebook. “The Public meetings are full of angry people but the MTA just barrels ahead. They don’t acknowledge that this ISNT about just getting to the 74th Street terminal. That there are HUNDREDS of people in Corona & East Elmhurst that work and shop in Jackson Heights!!!”
Others are on board with the redesign, like housekeeper Nicole Campbell, who lives in Elmont, just over the Nassau County line.
She comes into the city for work, enduring miserable trips on the Q3, best known as the route to JFK Airport. Now, stops are roughly 850 feet apart. The revamp would nearly double that distance, to 1,326 feet, and reduce travel time by about 20 seconds a stop, the MTA said.
“It stops too much,” Campbell said. “You’re on it all day.”
The MTA has added more than a dozen meetings to hear from passengers. After the town halls, MTA promises to incorporate the straphanger suggestions into the final draft, which Holmes is pushing to be unveiled by late June. A vote by the MTA board will come after public hearings that aren’t on the schedule yet.
“We want to get it right,” he said. “We’re not chasing deadlines.”