Earlier this week, elected officials throughout Queens reached out to MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye and NYC Transit President Andy Byford about changes to a proposed enclosed parking lot for the Jamaica Bus Depot that has been delayed for years and the environmental costs of modifying the project, but representatives of the transportation agencies stated that any deviations that were made were to speed along the development.
The Jamaica Bus Depot, which stores up to 60 buses at a time, is heading into its 80th year, according to the 18 elected officials that reached out to the transit leaders in a joint letter. The depot is at overcapacity and is in a state of disrepair, but hasn’t been reconstructed despite being in the MTA’s 2015-2019 Capital Plan, which included a $367 million budget for renovations.
The elected officials want the parking lot to be enclosed so as to drown out sounds the buses make when being fixed and to keep pollutants at bay from nearby households, according to the Queens City Council and State Assembly Members, and state Sen. John Liu (D-Bayside), but the MTA wants to repair the bus depot with an open-air parking lot.
“For years, the Southeast Queens has been left to deal with the dysfunctions brought on by the outdated and aging structure,” stated the officials. “Residents surrounding the current bus depot live with the improper storage of buses on residential streets and in front of senior centers.”
Both the nearby community boards and the union that represents the workers, ATU 1056, want the parking lot to be enclosed, according to Councilman I. Daneek Miller’s office.
“Pollutants and loud mechanical noises negatively impact the quality of life of locals,” the elected officials added.
When asked about the design of the parking lot and told of the environmental concerns, Byford stated the enclosed parking lot was still an “option” and that an environmental assessment was submitted.
“The reason we have submitted it with the uncovered solution is purely to keep this thing moving along. That depot desperately needs to be rebuilt, and that will happen in this Capital Plan,” said Byford.
The project is now a part of the MTA’s 2020-2024 Capital Plan.
“As we have not committed to a design yet, there is no construction timeline yet,” said Byford.
Currently, the MTA is in year two out of a three-year pilot to test 10 electric buses. It had purchased 15 articulated electric buses that will be delivered by 2020.
The outcome of the pilot will inform future purchases of electric buses, according to the MTA.
NYC Transit recently issued a Request for Proposal for 45 standard electric buses that will be put into service in all five boroughs upon delivery in April 2021 until the end of that year, according to the MTA.
The MTA 2020-2024 Capital Plan includes $1.1 billion to purchase 500 electric buses and to modify up to eight bus depots to accommodate electric buses with the goal of only purchasing the greener mode of transportation after 2029.
The electric propulsion technology in the electric buses results in quieter operations and there are zero tailpipe emissions from those units, according to the MTA. The electric buses use an electric motor to powered by a battery pack and its propulsion system recaptures energy wasted in braking.