Queens Residents Protest New Q15A Bus Route

The service cuts that have kicked in over the last few weeks starting with the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) & Metro-North Railroad have come full circle with the official beginning of new bus & subway routes today. While I’ve examined different facets of these cuts, it is clear to see that one kind has been getting the most press via upset riders. The cuts I am referring to are for buses around NYC which have angered riders so much that they have protested or filed federal lawsuits.

This course of action continued on Sunday as yet another protest was held, this time in Queens. However this was not a typical protest as it was not held outside of any political offices or MTA locations. Instead it was held on a residential street & led to them purposely stalling a bus from being able to operate. Erik Badia, Simone Weichselbaum, & Barry Paddock of the New York Daily News has more:

A protest in Queens trapped one city bus for an hour Sunday as doomsday service cuts left riders and straphangers reeling all over town.

Whitestone residents are steamed the Q15A, a new alternate route of the Q15 bus meant to pick up riders stranded by the elimination of the Q14, has been routed down a residential stretch of 10th Ave. they say is too narrow.
Dozens of angry neighbors joined former City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Queens) to stand in front of one of the Q15A buses, stopping it cold.

“We don’t want you here, go away,” one local resident shouted at the driver.

The protesters moved aside after a few minutes, but by then their prediction had come true: The bus faced a vehicle going the other way and the street was too narrow for the vehicles to pass each other.

Plumber Greg Sahakian was behind the wheel of the black Chevrolet pickup truck blocking the bus. Sympathetic to his protesting neighbors, Sahakian refused to back up and let the bus through.

“We’re just trying to keep our neighborhood the way it’s supposed to be,” Sahakian said. “He’s not gonna move, and where am I gonna go?”

A near-hour-long standoff ensued. The three passengers on the bus eventually abandoned it.

Click here for the complete report.

I support the first amendment & the ability of people to have freedom of speech in expressing their feelings & opinions. However I can’t get behind stalling a bus on purpose for an hour. Do they honestly think that a 1 hour standoff is all that it will take to change things? The proper thing to have done would be to hold a peaceful protest along with arranging a meeting with MTA NYC Transit in some capacity to discuss their issues.

Although I do not support the way they went about things, I must say I find it disgusting that the driver of the pickup truck was cuffed. If he was going to be let go without a ticket & charged with no crimes, then explain why he was ever handcuffed. What crime did he commit & were his rights read to him? I don’t want to go down this debate in this entry as it will stray away from the focus of transit but this incident is yet another sign of the state of our country.

Back to the transit issue though as I have to question where was this intensity in fighting for the blockage of this new route before hand? Also are these the same people that would complain about fare hikes, service cuts, etc… yet refuse to call out the elected officials for the huge roles they have in the much maligned transit agency’s budget woes?

I am pretty sure that they are which further illustrates what is wrong with the system in all facets. People want results yet refuse to fight for them or make every group involved accountable for their actions.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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