July 25, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
The Dept. of Transportation has reduced the operational hours of the controversial Main Street busway in Flushing.
The busway, which runs down a .6-mile stretch of Main Street between Northern Boulevard and Sanford Avenue, is now in operation from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays through Sundays having previously been in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The new rules went into force earlier this month.
The DOT said it made the changes having listened to the concerns of local business leaders, many of whom opposed the conversion of the street into a busway in the first place.
The 24/7 busway went into effect in January 2021 as part of a pilot program to speed up bus services along the busy commercial route. A group of local businesses mounted an unsuccessful legal challenge to stop the busway from being installed, arguing that it would deter customers from coming to the busy shopping zone. The DOT then went ahead with its plans.
The DOT made the 24/7 busway permanent in June following the completion of the pilot program but has now decided to scale back its operational hours.
“The Main Street busway has made commutes faster and more reliable for 155,000 daily bus riders and DOT is committed to its continued success,” said Vin Barone, spokesperson for the DOT.
“DOT determined the hours could be adjusted to better balance with the requests made by the local business community.”
The new changes also come after DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez toured downtown Flushing in April with Council Member Sandra Ung to discuss local transit issues.
Ung said she urged Rodriguez to reduce the busway’s hours of operation during their discussions, in an effort to allow more car-driving residents to patronize local stores and restaurants.
“I want to thank the Department of Transportation for listening to our community, who repeatedly raised concerns about the impact the busway would have if implemented, and agreeing to a compromise,” Ung said.
“This [gives] businesses some respite after 7 p.m. to welcome customers and arrange for deliveries.”
The DOT has put up new signage along the busway to reflect the new change in operational hours.
The agency, Ung said, also erected new signs at the intersection of Main Street and 37th Avenue alerting drivers they are about to enter the busway.
Ung said she prompted the DOT to put up the new, more visible signs, after drivers complained they inadvertently entered the busway and were fined. The motorists claimed they didn’t see the two previous signs ahead of the intersection before driving into the busway. Ung said that those signs were easy to miss and unclear.
Only buses, trucks and emergency vehicles are permitted on the busway as through traffic. The DOT prohibits all other motorists from using it, unless it is for local street access, pick-up and drop-offs, or garage access—and the operator of the vehicle makes the next available right turn off it.
Ung said she also asked the DOT to add additional red paint and markings along the busway corridor to make it more visible.