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MTA Publishes Next Version of Proposed Queens Bus Network Redesign

Updated December 12, 2023 2:30 p.m.

Plan to Invest Nearly $30 Million in Queens Bus Network

Plan Proposes Four New Local Routes, Eight New 24-hour Overnight Routes, One New Express Route from Southeast Queens to Downtown Manhattan

Proposal Adds New “Rush Routes,” Improves Bus Network Boroughwide and Enhances Interborough Connections

View Video of News Conference

View Photos from News Conference

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today released the Queens Bus Network Redesign Proposed Final Plan, which seeks to modernize the borough’s bus network through a comprehensive redesign to deliver faster, more frequent, and reliable service. The plan for improved bus service, informed by community feedback, includes a new type of route, “Rush” (introduced in the New Draft Plan), in addition to the existing Local, Limited, Select Bus Service (SBS), and Express routes. Rush routes have both a local and a non-stop portion. The plan proposes four new routes, 15 new route labels, eight new 24-hour overnight routes, and 27 Rush routes as part of the Local network. Overall, there are 121 total proposed routes; 91 Local routes, and 30 Express routes.

Queens has the largest bus network out of the five boroughs, serving nearly 800,000 riders on an average weekday, more than the weekday bus ridership of all of Los Angeles, the second largest bus system in the country.

“Better bus service means greater transit equity,” said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “Because of its history, Queens ended up with less subway service relative to its size and population than the other boroughs, so buses have always been vital links connecting residents to jobs, education, culture and everything else New York has to offer. This redesign modernizes and expands the network to deliver faster, more frequent service and provides new service in areas identified as underserved.”

“Queens is a borough of buses – every day hundreds of thousands of Queens customers rely on a bus to get around. This redesign will make bus service in Queens better, delivering shorter wait times and more reliable service, which are key drivers of customer satisfaction that we are focused on in our Faster, Cleaner, Safer Plan,” said NYC Transit President Richard Davey. “Queens buses serve some of the most transit-dependent populations and the new network is aimed to better reflect the major growth and change the borough has seen throughout the years, encourage bus ridership with faster, more frequent service, and improve accessibility to the rest of the transit system.”

“The redesign is certainly one of the heavier lifts in our efforts to improve bus service, so today’s news of releasing the Queens Bus Network Redesign Proposed Final Plan is a big milestone – possible through great community and stakeholder collaboration,” said NYC Transit Senior Vice President of Buses Frank Annicaro. “With other bus initiatives underway like expanding enforcement from bus lanes to bus stops and implementing priority street treatments, we are well on our way to deliver better, more equitable, faster service.”

“The majority of Queens residents depend on public transportation for their commutes and they deserve fast and reliable bus service,” said NYC DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “Through simplified routings, improved access to popular destinations, and better spacing of bus stops, working together with DOT’s busways and bus lanes, this bus network redesign will help Queens residents get to their destinations faster, spending less time in transit and more time where they want to be: with their families, friends, at health care appointments, or the many great cultural activities in this great borough. Thank you to Mayor Adams for supporting this work and to Chairman and CEO Janno Lieber and his team for putting this plan together.”

Following the release of the New Draft Plan in March 2022, which represented a new start for the Queens Bus Network Redesign after a pause due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the project team reviewed nearly 4,000 comments from a robust public outreach period, identifying key takeaways and feedback on specific routes, stops, frequencies and spans of service that became the primary input for the development of the report released today.

The Proposed Final Plan kicks off another major round of outreach consisting of open houses, in-person outreach, presentations to every Queens community board and more. At the end of the outreach cycle, the MTA will hold a hybrid Public Hearing (details to be announced at a later date). Feedback on the Proposed Final Plan can be provided using online tools such as the interactive Remix map, the online comment portal, or by calling 511. All plan materials and outreach information can be found on the project webpage.

Interested stakeholders are encouraged to participate in this final round of outreach in the Queens Bus Network and have their voices heard. In prior redesigns there were substantive changes made following the publication of Proposed Final Plans.

After the Proposed Final Plan outreach process is complete, the project team will make further adjustments to the plan, taking into account additional feedback heard at the public hearing. An updated version of the plan will then be presented to the MTA Board for a vote. If approved, the MTA would then begin the process of implementation.

Highlights of Proposed Final Plan

Improved All-Day Frequent Network

  • Queens’ bus improvement plan expands the already widespread existing all-day frequent network. All-day frequency allows riders the freedom to board the bus throughout the day without worrying about a schedule. There are 29 routes that provide 10 minutes or better service from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays.
  • The project expands the reach of the all-day frequent network to 68.9% of the borough, or to an additional 200,000 Queens residents.
  • There are 28 routes that have either increased frequency or expanded hours of operation. Key streets throughout the borough would see frequency increases, including Guy R. Brewer Boulevard, Merrick Boulevard, portions of Northern Boulevard, and Union Turnpike.

More Direct Routing, Faster Travel

  • Rush Routes quickly connect riders between outer borough neighborhoods and denser hub areas, including subway and rail stations or bus terminals (e.g. 165 St Terminal). There are 27 Rush routes that pick-up passengers locally on one end and then have greater stop spacing to improve travel times to the other end of the line, stopping at major transfer points and key destinations.
  • Increased bus stop spacing speeds up buses and improves reliability for customers. Bus stops in the Proposed Final Plan respond to public feedback on the New Draft Plan. 83% of riders will continue to use the same stop that they do today.

Better Connections

  • The redesign fills in gaps in the bus network and establishes new connections with other bus routes, subway lines, the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), and improves accessibility throughout Queens by connecting to more Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-accessible subway stations.
  • Improving connections maximizes the opportunity of taking advantage of discounted fare options like the LIRR’s CityTicket, which is a discounted ticket riders can use to travel within city limits for $5 during off-peak hours and $7 for peak hours.
  • New and modified routes expand the reach of the bus network, making it easier for interborough travel. For example:
    • The Q98 proposed route connects Myrtle-Wyckoff Ave (on the Brooklyn-Queens border) and downtown Flushing, Queens via Horace Harding Expressway. The new route complements the existing Q58, and provides connections to the 7LMR subway lines, 9 other bus lines and the LIRR Flushing-Main St station.
    • The QM65 is a new express route connecting Southeast Queens from Laurelton and Rochdale to downtown Manhattan.

Simplified Service

  • As introduced in the New Draft Plan, all Express routes are being standardized to use the “QM” route label, instead of some using “QM” while others use “X.”
  • Route labels for the Local network have been simplified so that customers better understand where their bus is traveling before they board.

A Customer-Driven Redesign

To gather feedback from everyday bus riders and spread awareness of the redesign after the release of the New Draft Plan, the MTA hosted 14 public virtual workshops, five in-person Open Houses, 15 in-person pop-up events through MetroCard Mobile Sales Van, and engaged with riders at busy hubs, bus stops and key locations, handing out 50,000 brochures about the Queens Bus Network Redesign project.

Additionally, dozens of meetings were held with elected officials, community groups, advocates, and other City agencies to develop a reimagined network that best serves Queens.

Complementary Initiatives For Better Bus Service

Redesigning the bus network is supported by additional initiatives underway to improve bus service with partnering agencies such as the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) and the New York City Police Department (NYPD). As part of the NYC Streets Plan, DOT identified key Queens corridors where bus priority street treatments can be implemented to better support sustainable, all-day bus service. Additionally, DOT’s work installing all-day busways in downtown Flushing and Jamaica, as well as bus lanes on Northern Boulevard and 21 Street, strengthens the bus network redesign and its investment in Queens.

The MTA continues to work closely with the NYPD to expand traffic enforcement of bus lanes and reduce instances of double-parked vehicles blocking bus lanes and delaying bus service. Similarly, the Authority is expanding its rollout of Automatic Bus Lane Enforcement (ABLE) cameras and rebranding as Automated Camera Enforcement (ACE), bringing enforcement to bus stops and double parking. The existing cameras capture drivers violating bus lane rules in real-time and have proven to be effective in deterring motorists from blocking bus lanes, improving service reliability and reducing collisions. The MTA currently has 623 buses equipped with ABLE cameras on 21 routes across all boroughs, and beginning May 2024, the Authority will upgrade 14 existing routes with ACE cameras. For more information, watch full presentation here.

Comments from Elected Officials and Advocates

“The MTA is starting to step up. It's hard to move a mountain but we're making strides so that people can understand that this is an agency that wants to see the best transportation network in the country and we're going to keep working on that, making sure that they do this bus redesign that we have,” said Senator Leroy Comrie. “We need the public, the drivers, we need all the users, all the people that are going to be impacted from the businesses, to come out to these meetings and speak your mind. We need your input on this because we want to get this right, and the MTA is dedicated to getting it right. “

"I was a public transit advocate for years before joining the Assembly, so it is and has been a priority of mine to ensure that my constituents and neighbors have the best possible bus service we can provide them with,” said Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas. “I'm grateful to have been engaged in a multi-year comprehensive process of redesigning the Queens Bus Network and have engaged with the MTA and stakeholders in various meetings and several formats. I will continue to express the concerns brought to me by residents in the community and encourage Queens residents to continue to make their opinions and suggestions known as we enter this final phase of the project. When I return to Albany for the legislative session and a new State budget process, I will continue to advocate for the investments necessary to make the MTA the public transit system that our city needs and deserves.”

"I was pleased to see that the latest plan restored cuts to the Q23 that my community and fellow elected officials strongly pushed back on, I am thankful to the MTA for hearing our concerns and making necessary adjustments,” said Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi. “I look forward to this continued collaboration, with a focus on community input, as the plans for the Queens Bus Network Redesign progress."

"Bus riders deserve more reliable service, and this proposal takes real steps to improve the frequency and speed of our buses,” said Assembly Member Zohran K. Mamdani. “I am particularly excited at the proposal of 30 express routes, which will radically improve bus riders’ experiences. I am grateful the MTA has considered the concerns of our constituents through this process and look forward to further discussion as we finalize the plan in 2024. Our priority must be to ensure high quality, safe and accessible transit, particularly for bus riders with no alternative to taking the bus."

“The MTA has presented its preliminary draft plan for the bus redesign and it is clear the voices in our community are being heard," said Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer-Amato. "I recognize there are a few additional changes that are needed to the plan and I am making sure the MTA knows what my constituents need! I look forward to further working to secure the bus routes our residents want and deserve." 

“Buses are a vital bridge for many residents in my district, to the rest of the city,” said NYC Council Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers, Chair of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “The new proposal is a Kickstart to another round of community engagement opportunities and I'm encouraging community leaders and community members to be vocal advocates in the process, fiercely engaged in the discussion from start to finish. I also encourage the MTA to listen to what the community says about the redesign and remain flexible and adaptable to their comments and suggestions.”

"I encourage everyone to participate in the additional community outreach that the MTA will hold," said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. "Queens, you showed up in the last round. We need you to show up again, to make sure that your voice is heard through this process. Because we all know no plan the MTA puts out will make sense unless we hear directly from everyday bus riders about how we can improve their commutes and their commutes and communities."

“Buses are the backbone of our transit system—especially in Queens,” said Chair of the New York City Transit Riders Council and MTA Board member Andrew Albert. “The Queens Bus Network Redesign will transform transit for riders in our city's most bus-dependent borough. After years of public input and going back to the drawing board with a wealth of feedback and ideas, we applaud the MTA for coming up with a plan that focuses on the issues that riders care deeply about—reliable service, faster travel, simplified routes, and better connections to other bus routes, subways, and the LIRR. This approach will help ensure that the Proposed Final Redesign Plan will provide better and more equitable service both within Queens and into the surrounding boroughs. We thank the MTA for listening to Queens riders, investing in them and in better buses, and delivering the first comprehensive redesign of Queens' bus service in the authority's history.”

“We are excited to see the MTA's commitment to improving bus service in Queens,” said Tri-State Transportation Campaign Active Transportation Program Manager Corey Hannigan. "With congestion pricing coming next year, it’s more important than ever that transit service is useful and accessible to everyone, and bus network redesigns like these are a great way to do that immediately, without needing costly new infrastructure. This is especially true in Queens, where many don’t have subway access, but whose bus network is a century out-of-date.”

“We’re excited to see a new and improved proposal for the Queens bus network that will prioritize fast, frequent, and efficient service,” said Transportation Alternatives Queens Organizer Laura Shepard. “So many New Yorkers in Queens rely on the bus to get to work, visit friends, attend medical appointments, and more, and we hope that the MTA and DOT will work together to make these trips faster and smoother with more dedicated bus lanes, busways, and quick connections.”

“A dynamic and predictable bus network is essential to a well-functioning public transportation system that all New Yorkers deserve,” said Regional Plan Association Vice President for Transportation Tiffany-Ann Taylor. “This is especially true in Queens, where some parts of the borough have easy access to subways or the LIRR, but many do not. We applaud the MTA for taking this opportunity to refine the proposed plan based on borough-wide feedback to make it more accessible and equitable. We are excited about the MTA’s release of the Queens Bus Network Redesign Proposed Final Plan, and we look forward to engaging in the next steps of the process with the community so they may gain the greatest benefits from its implementation.”

“We’re very glad to see the Queens Bus Network Redesign advancing, especially given the service enhancements in the Proposed Final Plan,” said StreetsPAC Executive Director Eric McClure. “The redesign will deliver numerous benefits for Queens’ straphangers, and we appreciate the MTA’s extensive efforts to engage meaningfully with stakeholders.”

“Queens riders need fast, reliable bus service on a modern network that complements the subway and serves major destinations better than before," said Riders Alliance Deputy Director Caitlin Pearce. "This bus network redesign is the result of several years of work and active input from thousands of riders. We encourage everyone who hasn't yet to be heard and we look forward to a final plan that puts riders first in New York's biggest borough."