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  1. To address a few previous posts: There are no coops/condos in the area on and off 188th Street between 73rd Avenue and 64th Avenue. It is a giant rental development. So there wouldn't be a board or anything like that. (http://www.freshmeadowsapartments.com/home.php) This includes the three story garden apartments, the three high rises apartment buildings, and all of the other townhouse type places in that development. You can't argue that the Q17 and Q88 serve those stops because it would be unfair for a customer to have to burn their transfer on a local bus (many express bus riders transfer free to the subway/another local bus in Manhattan) and it would also add additional time and inconvenience to a rider paying a premium price for express service. Unfortunately, the way the route is, it's way too easy for drivers to bypass the FM stops. A couple of years ago a driver bypassed FM on a the 6PM from Glen Oaks (which before the change was the first westbound that stopped in FM) and I mentioned it to him and he said "I'm running late as it is--they told me to skip it--and no one gets on down there anyway.) Regarding buses that disappear from BusTime--every single QM5 disappears off BusTime because if you check the route on BusTime, the QM5 is supposed to make a left on third avenue and enter the lower level of the bridge. However, even before the left turn from 57th street to 3rd avenue was banned, the buses stayed on 57th Street, crossed 3rd and 2nd Avenues, and entered the upper level entrance of the bridge. So, if the bus goes off the planned route, it will disappear from BusTime. It reappears in the bridge itself, but then disappears because the bridge exits are different from the upper/lower levels. It reappears after the Queens Blvd/Van Dam intersection, where the QM5 rejoins the published route. Even the "new" bus schedule with the QM1 changes still shows the bus taking a left on third avenue--which has been prohibited by the city for a few months now.
  2. That's a shame that people have to do that, especially in the extreme cold and hot weather. If the MTA doesn't really want to serve Fresh Meadows offpeak, then just cut the service completely and tell people to get off at 73rd and 188th and grab a Q17 or Q88 that will make the two FM stops in the traffic circles. Even have the driver give out paper transfers in case the passengers have already burnt up their transfers coming from a subway or another bus. If these drivers are going to play games even after we complain and the supervisors can see everything with the GPS/BusTime, might as well just give in to the drivers. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
  3. I already reported this via the Facebook page (private message) where I got a response and an incident number. I believe it is the same people that handle the website complaints and Facebook complaints, since I get the same form response letter from both. However, do these complaints really go anywhere? What was curious was that the driver made the right turn on 188th towards Fresh Meadows but then looped back at the first circle. Perhaps they figured out that if they do that, the GPS in BusTime won't alert supervision that they missed the stops? At this point, should someone record a video of a QM5 driver actually skipped the stop, and then posting it on YouTube to shame the MTA into actually doing something? Maybe alerting Help Me Howie? There certainly are some good express bus drivers that do things by the book. Heck, there was even one driver that made the Fresh Meadows stops on the outbound from NYC--even when no one on the bus was going to FM. Just so he could say he did, so there was no doubt if anyone forgot to press the STOP button. I respect that, even though I always hope that they ask if anyone is going down to FM and if not, they bypass the stops.
  4. Well, as I expected, corners are being cut with this change. I took the 4:40PM from Glen Oaks to Midtown last Friday, which with the recent changes, should have turned right on 188th street and serviced both Fresh Meadows stops. The driver turned right, but after entering the first traffic circle, took the circle back around to head back towards 73rd avenue/Union Turnpike. He completely skipped the 64th Avenue stop (technically, he also skipped the 69th Avenue stop, but he at least could see the stop from the circle.) I told him that he completely missed the second Fresh Meadows stop, and he completely ignored me. Was someone waiting down there? Who knows. If so, the person was left out in the cold to wait for at least another half hour--and who knows if the 5:10PM Glen Oaks driver would service the two stops as per the new schedule? This was after the driver almost missed a passenger jumping and waving for the bus at 198th St / 73rd Avenue. I had to yell "SOMEONE WANTS THE BUS!" and he slammed on the breaks a block down. What's with all of this corner cutting? If I lived in Fresh Meadows, I certainly wouldn't count on a QM5 turning down to pick me up at 64th Avenue!
  5. Wasn't BusTime supposed to help curtail the no shows? BusTime certainly is making QM5 drivers afraid for their jobs so they sit on 57th and 3rd Saturday until the posted :25 departure time--why would these AM drivers be able to get away with not showing up at all?
  6. Good luck getting the bus operators to actually all make the Fresh Meadows stops once this comes into effect. I've been on many a westbound weekend or evening QM5 where the bus driver just makes a left turn on 188th Street from 73rd Avenue, bypassing the two Fresh Meadows stops. Two times I asked the driver why this happened. The first driver told me that he was running late, and that "no one gets on down there anyway". He then proceeded to take Park Lane to the Van Wyck to the LIE. This was the 6PM trip from Glen Oaks. The second time, there was an MTA bus employee sitting in the front row that was monitoring loads. This was a weekend, which is when the Fresh Meadows stops do get some usage. After he made the left, I went to the front and told the driver and the MTA employee that they missed two stops. They pulled over and discussed it, and decided to proceed without going back to the missed stops. When I got off the bus in the city, I told them that it was unfair that they decided to proceed and not go back, and they said something like "our bad" and that was that. It's happened plenty of other times, too, especially with new/replacement drivers. Either way, if I was a resident of Fresh Meadows, I'd have a backup plan for each and every QM5 trip I would plan to take because the bus might just make that left turn onto 188th and leave me stranded. Mind you that these two incidents were before BusTime (but not long before), although that hasn't stopped all drivers from going off route. (But it has caused drivers to sit at 57th and 3rd for 20 minutes with the 25 minute gap on Saturdays between 37th/6th and 57th/3rd).
  7. Another totally unpublished and unwritten rule is the QM1/5/6/7/8 transfer point at 188th/Chevy Chase and Union. Going into the city, you can get off any QM1/5/6/7/8 bus at 188th and Union and transfer to a different bus (useful for those that are coming from the QM6 line which has no downtown option). On the way back from the city, you can get off at Chevy Chase/Union and pick up another express bus of your choice (if you took a QM7 home, let's say, but live on the QM5/8, you can switch). It's a great option, but this isn't published anywhere on the schedule! How would someone know? And I know other express bus schedules list transfers (midtown to downtown routes). And it's funny about the unmarked "alternate" express bus stops--once I saw a substitute bus driver almost pass a woman at one of these "express bus secret code" stops a few feet from the pole--how would the driver know? At some point, they need to come out with a system where the bus stop poles have buttons like a pedestrian button to cross a street. This way, approaching drivers can be alerted as to which bus the passenger(s) at the stop are waiting for.
  8. Once I had a bus driver stop the bus after the 57th and 3rd stop and walked up the aisle to see where everyone was getting off. Other times, the driver will ask when passengers get on. The best trick I've seen is at 8:30PM on weekdays where there is a QM5 and a QM6 leaving the city at the exact same time. The Union Turnpike people can take either bus, so once the QM5 driver I think purposely hung back a few minutes, let the QM6 pick up all the Union Turnpike people, leaving just the Fresh Meadows/73rd Avenue and beyond people for his QM5. He was able to sail on the LIE all the way to 188th Street. No complaints here with that one, actually, got home in nearly half the time it usually takes.
  9. I've used the online complaint system before--it's pretty useless. Once, I complained because the QM5 bus stop sign on 57th and 3rd was once actually closer to 57th and Lexington, at the same stop as the local buses that go down 57th street. Seems that at one point the QM5 stop was further down towards 3rd Avenue at a stop along with the QM 1/2/6/20, but maybe was moved to that other stop so the buses wouldn't crowd all at that same stop towards 3rd. Anyway, seems like it was a good idea, but the QM5 drivers never used that newer stop towards Lex. Drivers told me that "Yeah, the stop was changed, but we were never told so we still stop at the old stop". I said, "So you won't pick up someone at the actual QM5 stop", and I would get "Nope, we only stop at the old stop with the QM1/2/6/20 sign". Wow, great, how would a new bus rider know that? So I started e-mailing the MTA via the website form and I got a response that I'd have to take the issue up with the bus sign unit of the dept of transportation to have the sign moved. I called them, and they took my information but didn't seem to care. I then sent a much more forceful letter to the MTA via the website, and a few weeks later, I noticed that the QM5 sign was back with the other express bus signs at the stop closer to 57th and 3rd. Imagine that, trying to catch the midnight QM5 or something, and you were a first time rider and you tried to get it at the actual QM5 sign, but you got passed by because you didn't know where the "real" stop was, at the QM1/2/6/20 sign? Would be a nice $50 cab ride back to Queens, that's for sure.
  10. The other issues I've noted is coming into Manhattan during the evening hours--many drivers are reluctant to go past 37th and 6th, even if they have a long layover until their next run out. Granted, I understand it isn't the best usage of MTA's resources to have a bus drive me up to 55th and 6th, but the service is there on the schedule. But the biggest issue is the drivers whizzing by at night and not checking each stop, and barely noticing someone jumping and yelling and holding a bicycle light. Of course, I don't mind the corners cut when the drivers want to take the LIE down to Main Street or even farther down on the way back--once we even got to go as far as 188th Street on the LIE because no one was getting off before Fresh Meadows. Anyway, guess we have to be happy to have the service, especially such good service on the QM5, running through the evening, nights, and weekends.
  11. First post here after reading this forum for awhile. I live along the QM5 route and enjoy the convenience of the express bus, and since I primarily take bus into the city during the evenings, I often encounter bus drivers not really paying attention to passengers at bus stops. Sometimes they really fly down 73rd. I see them fly by from the window of my apartment sometimes. The bus stop I use (along 73rd avenue) is not really well-lit at night. This, along with some QM5 drivers going very fast city-bound in the late afternoon/evening, means that it's difficult to flag down the bus. During the winter, it's hard to catch a bus after 5PM. Many times I've jumped up and down, walked into the street, to have the bus barely notice me at the last second. A few times, I've had to shout "stop the bus!". Luckily, I've never been passed by, but it has come close. Even drivers have said "I barely saw you", and that's with me holding out a bicycle-style blinking light and waving and shouting . Sometimes, bus driver seem almost irritated that i'm boarding the bus into the city. Maybe they hope they won't pick up anyone on the way to the city. I also get nervous when the QM5 is traveling directly behind a Q88. At night, I feel like I'd have no chance to catch a QM5 city-bound if it were driving closely behind a Q88. If the MTA publishes service on the QM5, the drivers should be on the lookout for passengers at all times. From the packed rush hour buses to the 11PM Glen Oaks to Midtown bus. Also, I've been on a few off-peak and weekend QM5s that skipped the Fresh Meadows stops. Once, the bus driver basically said "eh, no one gets on there anyway" and another time the bus driver said "no, i wasn't supposed to pick up there". In the second scenario, it was a weekend, so he definitely was supposed to go down to Fresh Meadows. Good thread with some good comments about a real issue with the express buses.
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