Editorial: Altered (States of) Transportation or Getting Thrown Under the Bus

For the last several months, we’ve been talking to you about altered bus routes as the result of the MTA evaluations. You know–– the time when the big agency types make what they term “little changes based on fiscal considerations,” the types of changes they claim are “hardly noticeable.”

Well residents affected by those “little” changes, find them anything but little. And in fact have proven that they will go to great lengths try- ing to save every stitch of convenience remaining on our ever so inconvenient public transportation system.

We reported when Howard Beach residents Joann Ariola and Nina DeBlasio, both members of Community Board 10, locked horns with the MTA in an attempt to stymie efforts by the transportation giant to alter existing bus routes in Howard Beach and Lindenwood.

Then we told you about Geraldine Bruccoleri and Sherry O’Neill, who teamed up with their outraged neighbors in South Ozone Park, contacting every politician and media outlet that would listen to tell their tale of transportation woe–they went out one day and came home to a bus stop in front of their homes. In fact all over Queens, people are screaming about changes in bus service dumped on their laps with no word of warning from the MTA and no request for community input. Some people are upset over changes in bus stop locations, others about the removal of key bus stops––the list of hot topics goes on and on but the common thread is that no matter what anyone says, the MTA doesn’t listen.

Residents continue to experience public ambush by the MTA. The agency maintains that they posted signs to alert residents about changes and that they get torn down.

In sum, the MTA shortened the Q21 in Broad Channel and moved the stops for the Q41 in South Ozone Park.

In the case of the Q41, the MTA moved a bus from 111th Avenue to 109th Avenue between 111th and 128th streets. and with the Q21, it no longer makes local stops in Broad Channel.

In those cases and others which saw the elimi- nation of stops at major community artery’s like 101st Avenue, the MTA has never once provided sufficient opportunity for public input, but as evidenced by the community leaders, politicians and groups that have tried to tackle the MTA, they just don’t pay attention.

Perhaps there is no better demonstration of the difficulties that can arise with an entity when they are appointed by the mayor and/or governor. Community oversight and input is not a part of the equation.

Although none of these changes would be considered small by the residents whose lives have been greatly affected by them, we would like to bring to your attention one of the people who has been so affected by the change that life has become nearly unlivable.

Muriel Stemmann is a Broad Channel resident who wrote to The Forum to talk about the impact the MTA changes have had on her life. She is one of the “too few riders to keep the stop going for.”

She writes, “Dear Editor, I can’t get to church anymore to do my devotions, for the MTA has taken it all away from me…I am a member of the St, Mary Gate of Heaven Church located at 103- 02 101st Avenue in Ozone Park. I would take the Q21 here [Broad Channel] at 16th Road, change to the 8 at Woodhaven Boulevard and 101st Avenue. Now busses from Rockaway say “EXPRESS” and neither the new Q52 or Q53 stop on 101st Avenue. So I must get off at either Liberty Avenue or Atlantic Avenue and walk 15 blocks to church either way. And that sure ain’t for me. You see,I am now age 90. All I can do now is cry.” Signed, Muriel Stemmann of Broad Channel.

We’d like to ask the MTA just how little do you think the change has affected Mrs. Stemmann? You think you could call this hardly noticeable. You think that fiscal considerations and that she’s one of a very diminutive ridership should override the fact that a 90-year-old woman who is still able to go to church now can’t get there. All because the bus driver isn’t allowed to put his foot on the brake at 101st Avenue after he leaves Liberty and before he gets to Atlantic Avenue.

To the MTA we say this: If we were from Mrs. Stemmann’s time we’d probably say that this is all a bunch of poppycock but since we’re not from Mrs. Stemmann’s era we’ll tell you what we think. We think it sucks. We also think you’d better fix it. And fast. Just think of how many people now know that there could come a time when their grandmother is trying to get to church and can’t.


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