QUEENS — The MTA plans to change the route of the Q23 bus in Forest Hills, a step which local officials said would make it more difficult for shoppers to get to several stores along Metropolitan Avenue, including Queens' only Trader Joe’s.
The changes, which would also affect the QM12 and QM42, have been proposed as the Department of Transportation is intending to ban the left turn from southbound Woodhaven Boulevard to eastbound Union Turnpike as part of its plan to implement Select Bus Service along Woodhaven Boulevard this fall, the MTA said.
According to the MTA, which presented the plan to the Community Board 6 Transportation Committee last week, the one way loop at the end of the route would be reversed.
Source: the MTA
The Q23’s current Forest Hills-bound route goes south on 71st Avenue, then turns right to go west on Metropolitan Avenue, then makes a left turn to go south on Woodhaven Boulevard, before turning left again to go east on Union Turnpike — where the Forest Hills layover is located in front of the Forest View Crescent Co-op. The bus then resumes the route and goes north on 71st Avenue.
But under the new proposal, the bus would instead travel all the way south on 71st Avenue before turning right onto Union Turnpike, where it would stop at a new layover point near Stop and Shop, before continuing north on Woodhaven Boulevard, then east on Metropolitan Avenue and north on 71st Avenue, according to the MTA.
The proposal would also require the MTA to relocate bus stops on Metropolitan Avenue to the opposite side on the street, the agency said.
“For customers traveling on the Q23, loop privileges would be maintained, allowing customers to ride through the southern terminus to reach their destination on Metropolitan Avenue,” the MTA wrote in its summary of the proposal.
But members of CB6 said that the trip to numerous shops along Metropolitan Avenue would take much longer, because it would include the layover period.
“If you ride the Q23, you are going to be put out of your way all together,” said CB6 chair Joseph Hennessy at a meeting last week.
“And you are sitting there with no air conditioning in the summer and in the winter you are sitting there with no heat,” Hennessy said. “It’s absolutely disgraceful what they want to do.”
He also pointed out that relocating bus stops from one side of Metropolitan Avenue to another and building a new layover point on Union Turnpike could be very costly.
CB6 representatives said they’d prefer the DOT to instead create a dedicated left turn lane for buses only from Woodhaven Blvd to Union Turnpike during rush hour which would allow the bus route to remain unchanged.
But the DOT said that banning the left turn from Woodhaven Boulevard to Union Turnpike would address many issues at the intersection which is among the most dangerous corners in the area. There were about 150 traffic-related injuries and one fatality at the intersection since 2009, according to city's Vision Zero map.
The agency also said that of all the crashes resulting in an injury, 97 percent involved a driver crashing into another motorist who was turning left.
Cars intending to turn left also often stop in the middle of the intersection to wait for northbound traffic to clear, blocking southbound traffic, which creates congestion in the area and prompts other drivers to unsafely switch lanes, the DOT said, adding that it's currently working on building a dedicated left turn bay at nearby 81st Road instead.
CB6 said it intends to meet with the DOT to discuss the issue.
"I don’t know how anybody could ask a person riding on the bus to go through that," Hennessy said. "We are going to fight it."