Merrick Boulevard buses
A Q5 (top) and Q85 (bottom) terminating at Jamaica Center.
|System||MTA Regional Bus Operations|
|Operator||New York City Transit Authority|
|Start||Jamaica Center – Parsons/Archer|
|Length||Q5 (Jamaica to Rosedale): 6.8 miles (10.9 km)|
|Other routes||Q4 (Merrick Boulevard−Linden Boulevard)|
Q84 (Merrick Boulevard−120th Avenue)
n4X (Jamaica−Freeport Express)
|Annual patronage||Q5: 3,521,323 (2017)|
Q85: 3,481,666 (2017)
The Q5 and Q85 bus routes constitute a public transit corridor running along Merrick Boulevard in Southeastern Queens, New York City, United States. The routes run from the Jamaica Center transit hub and business district to Rosedale, with continued service to the Green Acres Mall shopping center in Nassau County. The Q4 and Q84 buses also serve the northern portion of the corridor, before diverging east along Linden Boulevard and 120th Avenue respectively. The Q4, Q5, and Q85 also provide limited-stop service along the corridor. The routes on the corridor mainly serve as feeder routes to the subway at Jamaica Center.
The Q4, Q5, Q84, and Q85 routes were operated by Bee-Line Inc. and later the North Shore Bus Company until 1947. All four routes are now operated by MTA Regional Bus Operations under the New York City Transit brand.
Route description and service
The Q5 and Q85 share most of the Queens portion of Merrick Boulevard, which runs southeast towards the Nassau County border. The routes run from the Jamaica Center–Parsons/Archer bus terminal to Rosedale near the Nassau County border. Alternate buses operate to or from Green Acres Mall in Nassau County, particularly during midday hours and on weekends. Both the Q5 and Q85 employ limited-stop service, running in the peak direction (mornings to Jamaica; afternoons to Rosedale) during weekday rush hour periods. These buses make no stops between Jamaica Center and the intersection of Merrick Boulevard and Liberty Avenue, running via Liberty Avenue and 160th Street instead of on Archer Avenue towards Merrick Boulevard. Only select local service operates to Green Acres during these times.
Due to high ridership and congestion, the corridor has been identified as a potential bus rapid transit corridor under the city's Select Bus Service (SBS) program. Though it was one of five priority corridors selected for SBS in 2004, the Merrick Boulevard corridor was eventually scrapped because of community opposition related to loss of parking. There are no active plans to implement SBS at this time. The corridor is also frequented by dollar vans, which parallel the bus routes. Buses along the corridor operate out of the Jamaica Bus Depot on Merrick Boulevard near Jamaica Center.
The Q5 begins at Bay A of the Jamaica Center Bus Terminal, traveling southeast down the entire length of Merrick Boulevard in Queens. At the county line, the route turns south along Hook Creek Boulevard to Conduit Avenue. The full-time route turns west a short distance along Sunrise Highway (which runs between South Conduit Avenue and the Long Island Rail Road Atlantic Branch at this location), terminating at the Rosedale LIRR station at Francis Lewis Boulevard. These buses reenter service towards Jamaica via Francis Lewis Boulevard and Brookville Boulevard. This was the original Q5 route, also known as the Rosedale Station Line. The Green Acres branch travels east along Conduit Avenue, which becomes the Sunrise Highway in Nassau County, then makes a clockwise loop around the Green Acres Mall, terminating at the parking structure at West Circle Drive. Q5 Limited buses make all stops east of Springfield Boulevard, running to or from the Rosedale LIRR station.
When limited-stop service operates, most local buses in the peak direction terminate at 231st Street and Merrick Boulevard (near Francis Lewis Boulevard, Brookville Boulevard and the Belt Parkway), with some service to or from Green Acres. Midday and reverse-peak buses alternate between Rosedale and Green Acres. On weekends except late nights, all Q5 buses travel to and from Green Acres.
The Q85 begins at Bay B of the Jamaica Center Bus Terminal, running down Merrick Boulevard to Baisley Boulevard and 120th Avenue in St. Albans. It then runs down Baisley Boulevard, Bedell Street (adjacent to the tracks of the Long Island Rail Road's Montauk Branch near Rochdale Village), and 140th Avenue to Springfield Boulevard. The route then turns south along Springfield Boulevard to Conduit Avenue, then east along Conduit Avenue, along the former Brooklyn-Freeport Line streetcar route. At Francis Lewis Boulevard near the Rosedale LIRR station, the Q85 splits into two branches. The full-time Rosedale branch turns south along 243rd Street and terminates at the intersection of 147th Avenue and Huxley Street, with a transfer to the Q111 to continue farther east along 147th Avenue. The Green Acres branch, which begins service at the end of the AM rush hour period, continues a short distance east along Conduit Avenue/Sunrise Highway into Nassau County, terminating at Green Acres Mall.
Q85 Limited buses make all local stops south of Baisley Boulevard and Bedell Street, terminating at 147th Avenue. During most of the AM rush period, peak direction (Jamaica-bound) local buses begin service at Farmers Boulevard and Bedell Street in Rochdale Village, at the Locust Manor LIRR station. During the afternoon rush, peak (southbound) local buses alternately terminate at Farmers Boulevard or Green Acres. During all other off-peak periods except late nights, buses alternate between Rosedale and Green Acres.
The Q85 was originally two separate routes, the Q5A and Q5AB. The Q5A ran from Jamaica along Merrick Boulevard, turning south at Springfield Boulevard (along the current Q77 route). It proceeded along Springfield Boulevard, Conduit Avenue (then called the Sunrise Highway), and 243rd Street to 147th Avenue and Huxley Street. It was known as the Jamaica-Rosedale or Jamaica-Huxley Street Line, or as the Laurelton Shuttle. By the 1970s, the Q5A was rerouted from Springfield Boulevard to Farmers Boulevard.
The Q5AB, originally the second branch of the Q5A called the Higbie Avenue branch, turned south from Merrick Boulevard at Farmers Boulevard to serve the Locust Manor LIRR station and the now-closed Higbie Avenue LIRR station at modern-day 140th Avenue. The route terminated either at Higbie Avenue or Springfield Boulevard in Locust Manor, or merged with the Q5A at Springfield Boulevard before continuing to Rosedale at either 147th Avenue or 225th Street and Conduit Avenue. The route was later renamed Q5AB and rerouted to Baisley Boulevard and Bedell Street, corresponding to the current Q85 Farmers Boulevard local service.
There was also additional Q5 services. The first was known as the Q5 Laurelton Station line, the Q5B, and later the Q5A-LS or Q5AS (Laurelton Shuttle). It operated as a north-south shuttle on 224th, 226th, and 229th Streets between the Laurelton LIRR station and 131st Avenue in the Laurelton neighborhood, one block south of the Montefiore Cemetery. It was later moved from 224th Street to 225th Street, and extended south to 147th Avenue and east to 243rd Street. The second, the Q5S, was a shuttle along Francis Lewis Boulevard between the Rosedale LIRR station at Conduit Avenue and 147th Drive at the southeast corner of Queens. Both these routes were later discontinued.
The Q4 and Q84 routes also provide service on the northern portion of Merrick Boulevard. At Linden Boulevard, the Q4 turns east towards Cambria Heights. At the intersection of Baisley Boulevard and 120th Avenue, the Q84 turns east along 120th Avenue towards Laurelton near the Montefiore Cemetery. The Q4 also provides limited-stop service along Merrick Boulevard, bidirectional in the AM rush period and towards Cambria Heights during PM rush hours. The n4 local and the n4X express services of the Nassau Inter-County Express also run along Merrick Boulevard from Jamaica to the county line, continuing along Merrick Road to Freeport in Nassau County. These buses, however, only make pick-ups towards Freeport and drop-offs towards Jamaica within Queens.
Express bus service
The X63 express bus begins in Rosedale, and runs along Francis Lewis Boulevard (the former Q5S route), Hook Creek Boulevard, and Merrick Boulevard to Linden Boulevard. It then turns west along Linden towards Midtown Manhattan.
On August 9, 1921, the Orange Bus Line began service along Merrick Road from Freeport in Nassau County to Rosedale in Queens near the county border. On September 15, 1921, the route was extended west and north to the Jamaica business district. In 1922, Republic Motor Truck Company dealer Henry B. Carter sold two truck chassis fitted with bus bodies to the operators of the Orange Line. On February 13, 1922, the Orange Line ceased operations, and the buses reverted to Carter's ownership. Carter's new Bee-Line Bus Company operated its first bus, without a franchise, on February 19, between the Rosedale station and Jamaica. This was the predecessor to the Q5. With only two buses, the route originally operated on half-hour headways. In addition to Jamaica-Rosedale service, on April 3, 1926, Bee-Line began operating service along Merrick Road between Jamaica and Freeport, Long Island, replacing the eastern portion of the Brooklyn-Freeport Line streetcar. Bee Line originally operated from 163rd Street and Jamaica Avenue in the Jamaica business district. On October 1, 1930, the Bee Line routes began terminating at the newly constructed Jamaica Union Bus Terminal near its former terminus. The new bus terminal was located at Jamaica Avenue and New York Boulevard (now Guy R. Brewer Boulevard), adjacent to the now-closed Union Hall Street Long Island Rail Road station.
The Q5A services were first operated by Transit Coach Corporation in 1931. By 1937, Schenck Transportation operated the route. By 1938, the Q5A was operated by the North Shore Bus Company.
On August 11, 1936, the Bee-Line routes were moved to the newly opened 165th Street Bus Terminal (then the Long Island Bus Terminal). In May 1939, Bee-Line relinquished its Queens routes. These routes began operation from the terminal under North Shore Bus Company on June 25, 1939, as part of the company's takeover of nearly all routes in Zone D (Jamaica and Southeast Queens). The Queens-Nassau County Merrick route was retained by Bee-Line; it is now the n4 of the Nassau Inter-County Express. The northern terminus of the Q4, Q4A (predecessor to the Q84), Q5, and Q5A was moved once again to Hillside Avenue and 168th Street, near the 169th Street station of the IND Queens Boulevard Line, on October 27, 1939. In 1941, the Q5A Farmers Boulevard service was extended from the Higbie Avenue station to Springfield Boulevard.
Archer Avenue changes
The Q5 was extended to Green Acres Mall on November 15, 1987. On December 11, 1988, in conjunction with the opening of the Archer Avenue Subway, the Merrick Boulevard routes' northern terminal was moved to the Jamaica Center Bus Terminal. That same day, the Q4A was renumbered Q84, the Q85 was created, and the Q5S became the Q86. At this time, the Q5A Laurelton Shuttle (then the Q5AS) was discontinued. In 1993, the routes began traveling on Archer Avenue in both directions. Previously, terminating buses traveled along Archer Avenue, while southbound buses traveled via Jamaica Avenue.
On January 10, 1994, limited-stop service on the Q85 began, with all weekday peak-direction trips (between 6:35 a.m. and 8:50 a.m. westbound, and 4:00 p.m. and 7:20 p.m.) on the Rosedale branch being converted to limiteds. The limited-stop service reduced travel times by three to five minutes. Morning limiteds made limited stops between the intersections of Bedell Street and Baisley Boulevard and Liberty Avenue and Merrick Boulevard, while those in the afternoon made limited-stops between the intersections of Parsons Boulevard and Archer Avenue and Baisley Boulevard and Bedell Street. Limited service and improved operations, reduced annual operating costs by $24,600. A survey of over 575 riders was conducted in July 1994. 57% of those surveyed said that travel time decreased, and 77% said that they wanted limited service to be extended from Baisley Boulevard to Farmers Boulevard. It was decided not to extend limited service due to higher ridership at intermediate stops at 130th Street and 133rd Street. January 1995, after an evaluation of the service, it was recommended to continue operating the Q85 limited, and that a limited-stop be added on the Q4, Q5, and Q85 at 109th Avenue and Merrick Boulevard.
The 1.5 miles (2.4 km)-long Q86 was discontinued in 1996, originally expected to be June 1995, due to low ridership. The Q86 was a short feeder route to the LIRR station at Rosedale, and to mitigate its loss, a UniTicket fare agreement to the Q85 was provided. The route had 200 daily riders, saving $170,000 in annual operating expenses. It had operated during rush hours only, between 5:30 and 9:30 a.m. and 2:50 and 7:50 p.m.. The route's cost recovery ration of 29% was well below New York City Transit's guideline of 50%. An alternative considered, but dismissed, was extending the Q85 along the Q86's route, running eastward from its terminal at Huxley Street and 147th Avenue to Francis Lewis Boulevard, and then northbound along the Q86 route to Rosedale station. It was dismissed for inconveniencing Q85 riders and because the cost of the extension would negate the cost saving.
In September 2003, limited-stop service on the Q4, Q5, and Q85 was expanded during AM rush hours, beginning earlier in the morning. On January 14, 2004, the MTA instituted the current limited-stop bypass in the Jamaica business district via Liberty Avenue and 160th Street.
In 2007, the MTA and the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) proposed converting the Q5 Limited to Select Bus Service, the city's version of Bus Rapid Transit. The Q5 SBS would have run every 5 to 8 minutes, while no changes would be made to local service. On March 26, 2007, members of Community Board 13 spoke out against the proposal because parking on Merrick Boulevard would have been eliminated for peak hour bus lanes. At the time, the NYCDOT expected the changes to go into effect no later than 2008.
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