Friday, April 3, 2009

Elimination of Q56 Bus Has Woodhaven Worried by Lee Landor - Queens Chronicle

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The residents of Woodhaven are deeply concerned as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority prepares to shut down one of their most critical modes of transportation — the Q56 bus, known locally as the Jamaica Avenue bus.

As part of its “doomsday budget,” passed March 25 and due to take effect in June, the MTA will eliminate all service on the Q56, which runs along Jamaica Avenue from 171st Street in Jamaica to Van Sinderen Avenue in Brooklyn.

The line serves the communities of Jamaica, Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill and Woodhaven in Queens and Cypress Hills and East New York in Brooklyn. “They’re crippling us,” said Maria Thomson, executive director of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corp. and Woodhaven Business Improvement District.

People take the Q56 to Jamaica Hospital and into Jamaica, where they can access a number of human resource agencies, such as the Social Security Administration. Students take the bus to different schools located along the route and seniors, who rely most heavily on the line, use it as an alternative to the J train, which many cannot access because it is elevated.

Seniors “cannot take the J line. They have got to take the buses because they’re more convenient for them and they’re more accessible physically,” Thomson said, adding that the MTA’s elimination of the route will cause major problems for Woodhaven’s shopping district.

“Our BID is 25 blocks. A lot of people take that Jamaica Avenue bus from one location on our avenue to the other and they would have nothing available to them if they discontinue that bus,” Thomson said. “There is no substitute for that bus.”

In her testimony to the MTA board during its public hearings, Thomson asked the members, “What are you thinking? How can you discontinue a bus that has no replacement?”

Thomson has reached out to a number of elected officials to make them aware of the situation. “They are lobbying for us,” she said and working on the community’s behalf to get the line reinstated in the budget.