Oct. 1, 2020 By Christian Murray
The Department of Transportation is scheduling a meeting with the leaders of the Flushing Chinese Business Association to discuss its next steps in the installation of its controversial busway on Main Street.
The announcement of an upcoming meeting comes in the wake of the association calling on the DOT to postpone the plan, which the group believed was set to be installed on Oct. 1. The FCBA says it wants the meeting so its members can provide additional feedback on the plan and learn more about it.
The busway is planned to run 0.6 miles along Main Street from Northern Boulevard to Sanford Avenue and cars will be banned along the strip.
The MTA says the plan will increase bus speeds and improve service for approximately 155,000 bus customers each weekday.
The FCBA, in a letter sent by its attorney Randall Eng on Sept. 25, called on DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg to postpone the installation of the plan. Many business owners, Eng said, fear that if motorists can’t park their cars along Main Street, they will shop elsewhere.
The FCBA issued a statement yesterday saying that the DOT had agreed to delay the Oct. 1 installation of the busway and is looking forward to further discussions with the agency.
However, the DOT refuted this account saying that it never set a fixed date of Oct. 1 to install the busway—instead saying that implementation would be done sometime in October. It did acknowledge, however, that it will hold a meeting with the group.
“We are scheduling a meeting with the attorney and the parties he represents to discuss next steps on the project, which we have said we plan to begin implementing in October, though we have not named Oct. 1 as a specific date,” a DOT spokesperson said.
The FCBA’s Sept. 25 request to postpone the installation was supported by many local leaders—including New York City Council Member Peter Koo, State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Community Board 7 Chairman Eugene Kelty and Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Grech. They also said that additional meetings were needed.
The DOT, however, said that it has held several public meetings on the busway, including Community Advisory Board meetings on June 26 and Sept. 1; a Public Information Session in Chinese and English on Sept. 10; and a Public Information Session in English, Spanish and Korean on Sept. 14.
The FCBA is opposed to the plan in its current form. The organization wants it shortened and doesn’t want cars to be banned along the 0.6 mile stretch 24/7.
Public transit advocates, however, back the busway proposal.
They maintain that better bus service will increase the number of potential customers traveling to the area and would therefore bolster local businesses.
Eng, the attorney representing the FCBA, recognizes that the DOT is unlikely to scrap the plans. However, he hopes the plans can be changed.
“They might consider modifying the plan to blunt the impact of the project,” Eng said. “We are all for progress just not extremes.”