A bus line in Western Queens got a boost in service as part of a summer test. Now, the upgrades will stick around for good. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
It's not going away on weekends, and will keep longer hours during the week.
The once-sleepy Q103, which runs along fast-growing waterfront areas from Astoria to Long Island City, is getting permanent Saturday and Sunday service and more frequent weekday runs.
"I have to work on the weekends, so I don't have to sit there, or walk, or take a cab and spend extra money. So I think it's great that they added the weekend services," says one rider.
Though the line serves just 800 riders daily, that's double what it was five years ago—as nearby neighborhoods that are a long walk from the closest subway line keep growing.
"There's no way to get to the train. It's really far. It takes at least, like, a 15 to 20 minute walk. So we rely on the buses. It's very important for us," another rider says.
Local officials and businesses along Vernon Boulevard had lobbied for added service along the waterfront. In June, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority began testing weekday service that runs to 9 p.m. and extends into the weekends.
"We knew when they started this as a trial program that it was going to be successful. A lot of the cultural institutions along the waterfront tailored their programming to make it easier for people to come now when the buses were arriving. And we've seen the ridership that we knew was going to be there," says State Senator Michael Gianaris.
But just how much of a boost has come this summer is unclear.
While the MTA doesn't have ridership numbers for the Q103 since service was extended, officials here at the Socrates Sculpture Park say they've detected a bump in attendance since service was added on weekends.
That's when the park is host to a greenmarket, free yoga classes and other programs.
"It's really not just a luxury to have public transportation, but it's really a necessity. So I'm glad that we have that final piece of the puzzle put together," says Katie Denny Horowitz of Socrates Sculpture Park.
The MTA says the line is essential to Western Queens commuters.
"It serves as a feeder to the 7 at Vernon/Jackson and it also serves as a feeder to the F line at 21st Street/Queensbridge," says MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz.