“Right now we need to expand access, not take it away,” said Councilman Peter Koo, before repurposing “BLM” to chant “Business Lives Matter” outside the Flushing Library last Thursday. “We want to make it easy for people to come, not just the bus riders.”
The Department of Transportation (DOT) added a bus-only lane southbound on Main Street between 37th Avenue and 40th Road in March of 2017.
The department was planning to entirely prohibit cars between Sanford Avenue and Northern Boulevard to speed up bus service, much like the changes to 14th Street in Manhattan. DOT estimates 150,000 riders use the buses on Main Street on a normal weekday.
Some business owners are worried that prohibiting cars will lead to a drop in customers, but John Choe, executive director of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce, says when presented with all the facts, many business owners are on board with the plan.
“We spoke to many of the business of Main Street, Prince Street, and all the surrounding streets,” he said. “We gave them all the information and asked them ‘do you support the busway?’ We got more than 200 people to sign our petition with all the right information.”
Juan Restrapo, Queens organzier for the nonprofit Transportation Alternatives, said businesses on 14th Street were in favor of the busway because they were concerned about a lack of customers when the MTA was still planning a full shutdown of the L train for tunnel repairs.
“There was a strong business backing of that transportation project, and here we’re seeing the opposite effect,” he said. “Businesses are scared to death of the idea of the Main Street busway, thinking it will kill their business.”