2016-06-01 / Front Page

Community ‘Overwhelmingly’ Against DOT, MTA SBS Plan

A large crowd attended the SBS open house at PS 306 in Woodhaven May 25.
A large crowd attended the SBS open house at PS 306 in Woodhaven May 25. The Department of Transportation and MTA held an open house on May 25 that was well-attended by people from Woodhaven and other communities affected by the proposed Select Bus Service (SBS) plan along Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards. Feedback from attendees was “overwhelmingly critical and cast doubt on numerous aspects of the proposal,” according to a statement by the Woodhaven Residents Block Association.

A large crowd that packed the house at PS 306 in Woodhaven included scores of residents and business owners who asked for significant changes to the SBS plan. Many expressed concern about “forcing bus riders to wait on medians in the middle of the boulevard, removing a lane of traffic 24/7 for use by buses only, and banning left turns onto major cross streets,” the WRBA noted. Other concerns noted by WRBA included “the city’s poor track record of clearing snow from bus stops and crosswalks, the SBS plan’s failure to consider alternatives arbitrarily placed outside the scope of the project, buses’ tendency to speed, buses’ failure to use existing bus lanes on the boulevard, lack of transparency regarding data the DOT and MTA are using, impact on parking, and locations of individual bus stops, among other issues.”

Several of these concerns had been expressed in a letter the WRBA sent to DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia in November 2015. DOT still has not responded to that letter, WRBA stated.

“Many residents and business owners from Woodhaven and beyond made clear that they oppose the plan as it currently stands. There’s no way DOT and MTA can move ahead in good faith without taking this feedback seriously,” WRBA President Martin Colberg said.

“There has been virtually no genuine community feedback in favor of this plan, but as we saw last night, there’s plenty in opposition.”

Multiple attendees expressed concern that the DOT personnel were not taking their feedback seriously. On numerous occasions, residents asked DOT employees to write down their input, because the city officials “made no proactive effort to record the feedback,” according to the WRBA statement. “A DOT representative told a resident that the session was not to collect feedback, but rather to tell residents what was going to happen on the Boulevard – displaying a clear disinterest in what the community had to say, even though a purpose of the workshop was supposedly to collect feedback. Multiple residents felt that the DOT personnel were brushing off any feedback that was critical of the SBS plan,” the WRBA further noted.
“DOT should listen carefully to the disappointed and frustrated residents who spoke up last night, not dismiss them. Unfortunately, many attendees felt this was a dog and pony show, rather than a true effort to collect feedback,” WRBA Director of Communications Alex Blenkinsopp said. “DOT demonstrated an ability to respond to community input when they reinstated some of the left turns. They have an opportunity to regain the faith of the community by making the significant changes requested at the open house.”
The WRBA asked all who oppose the SBS plan to sign a petition at www.SaveOurStreets.nyc. For more information about how the SBS proposal will affect the community, visit www.SaveOurStreets.nyc/faqs.

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