Sept. 29, 2022 By Christian Murray
The NYC Department of Transportation and the MTA cut the ribbon on new bus lanes along 21st Street in Astoria Thursday.
The lanes, which stretch 3.4 miles and run from Astoria to Long Island City, will serve 29,000 MTA bus riders along three different routes—the Q66, Q69 and Q100. These routes serve two of NYCHA’s largest developments, the Queensbridge and Ravenswood Houses.
DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez was on hand to cut the ribbon and said that the new bus lanes would speed up commuting times for riders, provide residents with better transit service, and increase road safety.
“The changes to 21st Street will not only make bus service faster and more reliable to thousands of riders, but they will also help us make this street much safer, helping to meet our Vision Zero goals,” Rodriguez said.
He also said that the new lanes would provide residents who live along the 21st Street corridor– who are not served by the subway– with better bus service.
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said that the new bus lanes are a big enhancement for residents, noting that the area is a transit desert.
“With much of Queens in a transit desert with limited access to the subway, finding ways to improve bus service is key to providing faster, more reliable transit options for all of our borough’s residents, no matter what their ZIP Code or socioeconomic status may be,” Richards said. “The 21st Street Bus Priority Project will vastly improve bus service in western Queens.”
The DOT, in conjunction with the MTA, plans to add enforcement cameras to 21st Street in the near future to ensure that the bus lanes remain clear.
The new lanes came with several other DOT upgrades, such as the construction of five pedestrian islands and six left turn lanes, along with painted curb extensions. Much of this work is in line with the Adams administration’s commitment to redesigning 1,000 intersections in 2022.
The five pedestrian islands are at the following locations:
- —21st Street at 40th Avenue (north side)
- —21st Street at 36th Avenue (south side)
- —21st Street at Broadway (north and south sides)
- —21st Street at 30th Avenue (north side)
- —21st Street at Astoria Blvd (north side)
Other enhancements include Neighborhood Loading Zones on 21st Street to reduce double parking and sidewalk tree plantings.
Councilmember Tiffany Cabán said that the 21st Street revamp will make the thoroughfare safer for all road users.
“The redesign…will not only speed up service for bus riders but will make our streets safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike. I look forward to continuing to partner with the DOT to bring additional transportation infrastructure improvements to Western Queens.”
The 21st Street project came about through a public engagement process that took place over the past two years, according to the DOT. The two main issues that the public raised through that process dealt with bus service being slow and unreliable—and aggressive motorists.
Some residents during the public process disagreed with the DOT’s proposal, arguing that the new bus lanes would add to congestion since it would reduce space for motorists.
Councilmember Julie Won, however, praised the design today saying that it “protects our most vulnerable neighbors: children and seniors, as well as working class New Yorkers in Astoria Houses, Ravenswood Houses, and Queensbridge Houses.”
“Excited to cut the ribbon on this project that will truly save lives and change the way we look at our streets,” Won said.