Queens Bus Network Redesign: A Better Way Forward

Improving Bus Travel in the World's Borough

This report on existing conditions is the first step in the bus network redesign process. The goal is to take a fresh look at the World’s Borough, its people, its travel needs, and what can be done to improve bus travel to meet those needs. The Queens Bus Network has not substantially changed in decades. The continuing decline in bus ridership in Queens, and in New York City, requires a fresh look at how we provide bus service. Buses are slowing down, and bus reliability is suffering. Over that same period, our customers’ needs have transformed dramatically. The bus network needs to evolve with them. We will build a new bus network to meet those needs.

This report is a joint effort by New York City Transit (NYCT) and MTA Bus Company. For everyone’s sake, we refer to the two organizations as “we” throughout the report.

Corridor Profiles

We analyzed a large number of corridors in Queens based on land use, density, and bus boarding activity along the corridor, as well as features of the street that affect bus travel. Although many more were considered, we developed profiles for 41 of the longer, straighter corridors for this report.

Click here to read through the corridors in your area. We've also provided some tips on how to interpret the profiles.

Key Findings

Customer Priorities:

  • Increased Reliability – Customers want buses to be more reliable, less crowded, and less bunched.
  • Shorter Travel Times – Customers want shorter waits at stops, and to get to their destinations faster.
  • Better Connections – Customers want access to more of the city than they have now, especially better interborough connections and better access across long distances within the borough.
  • Easier to Use – Customers want the bus network to be easier to use.

Travel at a Glance:

  • Population and employment density is concentrated along subway lines. The Queens Bus Network covers much of the rest of the borough, but travel times are often long as routes meander throughout various neighborhoods before reaching the subway.
  • Only 20 of the 81 subway stations in or near Queens are accessible, according to the standards set in Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The network redesign could be particularly important for those customers whose transit options are currently more limited.
  • About 52 percent of Queens commuters travel via transit. According to Census ACS data, about 39 percent of Queens commuters identified rail modes as their primary means of transportation, while 11 percent identified bus as their primary means. About 38 percent of commuters drive to work.
  • Most customers in Queens rely on a bus and a subway to get where they need to go.
  • Most Queens residents have access to some level of bus service. Approximately 94.27 percent live within a quarter-mile walk (about 5 minutes) of a local, limited, SBS or express bus stop.

Limitations of the Existing System:

  • Existing routes meander through much of the borough, since they were designed to get everyone to a subway station.
  • The most productive routes are often short and mostly straight. They also tend to traverse through high-activity areas and make connections with subway lines and other key bus routes.
  • Close bus stop-spacing hinders high-ridership routes by slowing down the bus at stops too often.
  • Many bus routes try to serve several different purposes at once, serving none of the individual purposes well.
  • Even with bus routes covering most of the borough, there are opportunities to improve system connectivity and provide easier access to places in the borough that customers want to go.

Next Steps

Following this report, we will release a Draft Plan of the redesigned Queens Bus Network in November that reflects the findings of this report, information gathered from public input sessions (workshops, in-person surveying, and online surveying), and additional data analyses. The Draft Plan will be developed with support from the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT), an essential partner in serving the citizens of Queens. Additional public input sessions will be held following the release of the Draft Plan, from which the feedback will inform the development of a Final Plan, to be released in April 2020.

The new draft bus network will be a holistic reimagining of the bus network, drawn from scratch. Any resemblance to the old network will be based on essential realities of travel in the World’s Borough. High-ridership corridors will be served by frequent bus service in the new plan, the same as they are in the current network.