LONG ISLAND CITY — The art bus is on a roll.
Waterfront bus service in Western Queens' burgeoning art corridor, which is packed cultural institutions and a booming tech sector, has been expanded and residents are clamoring for more.
Now, the Q103 — which runs along Vernon Boulevard, between Hunters Point and Astoria, and is passing by many art galleries and cultural venues, including Socrates Sculpture Park and The Noguchi Museum — begins its weekday service at 6:10 a.m., 20 minutes earlier than before, and ends at 7 p.m., 20 minutes later than usual.
But Gianaris wants the service to continue on nights and weekends “due to a developing arts corridor along the bus route and an expected increase in traffic from the construction of the Cornell-Technion Applied Science campus on Roosevelt Island.”
“This vibrant and growing part of western Queens will continue to need more mass transit options as its population increases,” Gianaris said.
Community members applauded the move.
“It’s something that members of the community have wanted for a long time,” said Sheila Lewandowski, executive director of The Chocolate Factory, a theater located along the route in Hunters Point.
Socrates Sculpture Park has T'ai Chi classes and farmers market on weekends, she said. There are also many restaurants along the waterfront and LIC Boathouse offers free kayaking for families and their children, also on weekends, she added. “But there is no way to get there,” Lewandowski said.
“There is no public transportation that goes directly up and down the waterfront and we are disconnected from our northern community on weekends,” she noted. “Yet there are a lot of activities we share which include the cultural programming.”
The subway is several blocks from the water and straphangers have to transfer in order to travel from Astoria to Hunters Point.
But the MTA spokeswoman said “the Q103 is the lowest-volume local route operated by MTA Bus,” serving about 625 customers per weekday, according to the MTA.
“At this time, ridership does not warrant an increase to weekend service,” the spokeswoman said in an e-mail. “However, we will continue to monitor ridership on the route and make incremental adjustments as necessary.”