NYC to launch busway in Flushing after local pushback sparked months of delays

Clayton Guse, New York Daily News

Buses and trucks will get priority on some of the busiest streets in downtown Flushing, Queens starting Tuesday with help from a new busway.

A street redesign meant to ease the way for 11 MTA bus routes will stretch a half-mile along the northbound lanes of Main St. between Sanford Ave. and Northern Blvd., as well as a stretch of nearby Kissena Blvd. that leads to the No. 7 train’s eastern terminus at the Main St. station.

The city Department of Transportation in 2017 made similar changes to the southbound lanes on Main St. between 37th Ave. and 40th Road, a shift officials said sparked a 23% improvement in bus speeds.

Any car operating on those streets must take the first right turn or else be subject to a ticket. The NYPD will issue warnings to drivers for the first 60 days after it launches, and the DOT will install cameras to automatically enforce the new rules.

The new busway will launch as a year-long pilot that could be made permanent if it succeeds.

The busway was originally scheduled to launch last June as a part of Mayor de Blasio’s COVID-19 recovery plan — but fierce pushback from Flushing business owners prompted the DOT to hold months of community outreach.

Councilman Peter Koo (D-Queens) in July held a counter-protest to an MTA press conference in Flushing, joining locals in chanting “business lives matter” and arguing the changes would steer drivers away from local businesses.

The Flushing busway’s launch follows similar projects in Manhattan along 14th St., which launched in 2019, and another along downtown Brooklyn’s Jay St., which debuted in August.

De Blasio said he’s convinced the Flushing busway will ease congestion and speed travelers.

“Successes like the 14th St. busway in Manhattan and the Jay St. busway in Brooklyn have proven that these initiatives work,” the mayor said in a statement Wednesday. “I can’t wait to build on this project and expand faster, more reliable transit options to even more neighborhoods this year.”