The Queens Public Transit Committee was founded with the idea that all modes of transportation in Queens can and should be improved. We believe that transportation improvement is not a “zero sum game.” That is, we do not believe that improvements in one mode of transportation must be at the expense of another.
We advocate safer streets and better (and safer) roads. We recognize that we are all pedestrians at some point. But pedestrian safety must not come at the expense of moving traffic.
And even though we may drive an automobile, we also use buses, subways, and railroads. All of which must be improved. While we recognize the importance of mass transit in Manhattan, it is also desperately needed in Queens. But mass transit is unable to replace automobiles in much of Queens.
Queens has virtually no effective north / south mass transit. There are a few bus routes but no rail routes even though the city owns an inactive rail right of way that could be reactivated at minimal cost. For a comparison of a central Queens north / south route take a look at our QueensRail™ pages and our discussion of the proposed Q53 Select Bus route. Estimates for the QueensRail™ option range from $350 to $700 million while the Select Bus option is budgeted at over $250 million.
We believe that the city’s Woodhaven Boulevard proposal raises a number of issues that shed significant light on their overall transportation policies.
The city proposes Select Bus Service (SBS) but offers no evidence that it is the best mass transit alternative for this route. At best, SBS will reduce travel time from 90 minutes to 60 minutes. The QueensRail™ option (reactivation of the LIRR Rockaway Beach Line) would reduce travel time to under 30 minutes at a small cost increment.
If Select Bus is not a good reason for spending over a quarter of a Billion dollars, what is the reason? If it is pedestrian safety, perhaps there are other, simpler and less expensive alternatives. One place to start would be timing traffic signals as federal law and engineering practices mandate. Every traffic engineer knows that wider streets demand longer pedestrian intervals and longer stopping times. But NYC DOT is run by politicians, not engineers.
Another safety measure might be pedestrian education. Does anyone remember such phrases as "cross at the green, not in between", wear light colors after dark, or when there are no sidewalks, walk in the street facing traffic? Where aren’t there sidewalks in NYC that people have to walk in the street?
Probably the final safety measure needed citywide, is incarcerating motorists who habitually operate vehicles when not properly licensed.
Has DOT or the city generally considered any of these? No, they have not! The true intention of the "SBS" project is to make it more difficult to drive. Why else would half of the traffic lanes be removed, punishing over 100,000 people for a possible benefit to fewer than 30,000 people?
There are two recent studies that evaluate the rail option. One, by NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service is available here while a more recent one by the Queens College Office of Community Studies is available here.