A letter from community activist and Whitestone resident, Ali Fadil.
I am Ali Fadil, a community organizer based in Northeast Queens, and I am writing this letter in response to your posting of Elio Forcina’s letter to MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota encouraging Lhota to run for mayor next year.
What I am critical of in Elio Forcina’s letter is that he seems to offer wholehearted support to Lhota despite the fact that Lhota has done little for Northeast Queens, especially when it comes to Express Bus service which many in Northeast Queens rely on. During Lhota’s chairmanship, service reliability on the Express Buses in Northeast Queens has gotten worse, which in part is due to the MTA making substantial changes to Bus Operator work schedules at the College Point Bus Depot where the QM1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 20 which all operate in Northeast Queens are based out of. Service levels during some parts of the day on some Northeast Queens Express Bus routes are worse than they were under Queens Surface. Lhota has also refused to make service investments in Northeast Queens where it matters such as adding a Bayside/Whitestone/North Flushing to Lower Manhattan service which the MTA has admitted is a good idea; or having service on the QM2 and QM20 begin earlier in the morning which would better accommodate lots of people; or adding a 3rd Avenue branch to the QM20 bus; or restoring North Shore Towers to Lower Manhattan Express Bus service which the MTA quietly cut in 2008 without a public hearing, and at a time when there were plenty of service investments being planned, such as a Q45 extension to Atlas Park which drew widespread opposition in Glendale and by Community Board 5.
If Joseph Lhota really cared about Northeast Queens, he would have had his agency meet with myself and Senator Tony Avella when we wanted to have a sit down with the MTA to discuss the possibility of having a Bayside/Whitestone/North Flushing to Lower Manhattan Express Bus route which the MTA thinks is a good idea. But when Senator Tony Avella requested a meeting with the MTA when they were mulling service investments, Lhota’s agency refused to meet with myself and Senator Tony Avella. Lhota could have also restored the North Shore Towers to Lower Manhattan Express Bus route that was cut without a public hearing and during a time when the MTA was making service investments that communities did not want to have which was the case when the MTA wanted to extend the Q45 to Atlas Park.
As someone who wanted to represent Northeast Queens in Albany, I hope that Elio Forcina understands that Joseph Lhota is a man that has done little for the area that he lives in and has done little for the area that he wanted to represent. As mentioned, Lhota even refused to have a representative of his agency meet with myself and Senator Tony Avella to discuss service in Northeast Queens. I do not think that someone such as Joseph Lhota who does little for Northeast Queens and refuses to work with Express Bus riders/advocates like myself and our elected officials should be our mayor.