A new express shuttle service from downtown Jamaica to Springfield Gardens has been established to give a new commuting option to employees who work along Rockaway Boulevard in Southeast Queens.
The GatewayJFK Connection was officially launched at a ribbon cutting on May 27th after a two-month pilot period that provided more than 200 riders per day want a better connection between the Subway/Bus/LIRR transit hub at Sutphin Blvd. and GatewayJFK, a Business Improvement District (BID) that is home to an estimated 8,000 jobs in warehousing, cargo, trucking, food manufacturing and other industries.
The shuttle runs on weekdays from 5:00 AM to 9:00 AM and 1:00 PM to 9:00 PM and operates using a mobile phone application built by the tech startup Dollaride. Riders can track the real time location of the shuttle on a map, reserve a seat, and digitally pay for their ride by downloading the Dollaride app.
At the ribbon cutting Queens Borough President Donovan Richards linked the shuttle to a vital need for transit in the area “Coming out of this pandemic, we’re looking for a new normal where we no longer have transportation deserts.”
Assembly Member Khaleel Anderson agreed “This is a step towards resolving transportation inequities that exist here in Southeast Queens. It’s no secret that Southeast Queens has among the longest commute times in Queens and in New York City… and we just opened up access to over 8,000 jobs by opening this service.”
Su Sanni, the CEO of Dollaride grew up in the neighborhood that the shuttle serves “I’m a local to this area of Queens” said Sanni “It was important for me to be part of a project like this where I had the opportunity to give back to my local community and collaborate with other leaders in Southeast Queens.”
To help design the route for the service GatewayJFK and Dollaride partnered with WXY Architecture, who did research and interviewed HR representatives and employees from some of the major anchor employers in the district including the Federal Aviation Administration, Bornstein Caterers, Homes for the Homeless, and Gourmet Boutique.
WXY found that that there was a need to supplement the MTA’s Q6 Bus line, which transit activist group Bus Turnaround Coalition gave a grade letter of F for on-time performance in 2019. The new service is designed to help commuters shave more than 20 minutes off their ride to and from work.
“We’re currently running two shuttle busses” said Scott Grimm-Lyon, the Executive Director of GatewayJFK “We designed the service to be able to scale based on demand and we think that 200 riders per day is just the beginning. We hope that the service will not only help existing workers in the area but help attract new jobs to the area as well, especially as we rebound from COVID-19.”
Borough President Richards spoke about how the shuttle as a fulfilment of the initial work by business owners and community members to create GatewayJFK “When I was at the City Council, we passed the legislation to create this BID and it was not easy getting everybody together” he said, “But this shows that when we come together our community can see positive quality of life improvements.”
App development, and the two-month test period were subsidized by a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which is tracking the project to see if it will encourage workers to drive less. Over the next few months, the service will slowly phase from free into a paid service, with rides eventually costing $2.50. To promote the new route, GatewayJFK and Dollaride are giving away 60 free rides to people who download the app from the Google Play or Apple app store, or who sign up at dollaride.com/jfk.