The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Express Buses: Is spending $6.50 worth it?

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Imagine a bus that could take you from SJU to Midtown Manhattan in less than 35 minutes; a bus that makes less than five stops in Queens once you board at the Union Turnpike/168 Street bus stop, before proceeding straight to Midtown; a bus with comfortable seating, charging ports and a smooth ride to your destination.

Such a thing exists.

In a world of unreliability, from delayed flights at LaGuardia to shuttle buses that are never on schedule, there’s a form of transportation that restores my faith in the MTA. It wasn’t until I stopped ignoring the Google Maps option that most people see and disregard: Take the QM5 or QM6.

When I first learned that I’d be interning at ABC News, I was thrilled. I told myself that even though interning 30 hours a week would mean I’d have to spend a lot of time commuting, and essentially diminish a good portion of my social life, my commute didn’t have to be as stressful as the newsroom can be.

I began looking for alternatives to the only two routes I knew of at the time: Taking the notorious Q46 bus to its last stop at Kew Gardens, then taking the F train to 57th Street to catch the M5 bus to Lincoln Center or the Q46 bus to the E train, then stopping at 7th Avenue 53rd Street and catching the D train to 59th Street transferring to the 1 train to get off at Lincoln Center.

Are you still following me?

When I realized how harrowing my commute would be, I began to consider ordering a daily car service, or taking a daily Uber to the train. The Q46 bus travel time can vary from 15  to 25 minutes. Then, I remembered how unreliable and annoying car service could be. Not to mention, the toll it would take on my wallet.

If you’ve ever considered taking an express bus as opposed to the bus and train, like I did, I’m here to say go for it. According to the MTA, the QM1, QM5, QM6, QM7, QM8, QM31, QM35 and QM36 buses operate express between Northeast Queens and Midtown or Downtown Manhattan.

The routes operate primarily on Union Turnpike in Queens, and travel non-stop via Queens Boulevard, the Long Island Expressway, and the Midtown Tunnel or Queensboro Bridge between Queens and Manhattan.

The QM5 and QM6 are the only buses of the corridor to operate seven days a week. They also operate in both directions during morning, midday and evening hours between Midtown and Queens, so you have a reliable way of getting to the city on the weekends too.

Sounds too good to be true, I know.

At $6.50 a swipe, the express bus alternative is almost $4 more than the moderately-priced $2.75-a-trip swipe on a MetroCard for regular bus and subway service. A 7-Day Express Bus Plus MetroCard is $59.50, in comparison to $32.00 for a 7-Day Unlimited Pass for trains and local buses. The Express Bus Plus MetroCard comes with a transfer to a bus much like a regular MetroCard swipe.

It also arrives infrequently at times, and takes a local route when making a return trip back to Queens. This means that although it takes less than 35 minutes to get to your destination in Manhattan in the morning, it could take twice that to get to campus in the evening.

I enjoy the express because I am able to get so much schoolwork done on my laptop during my commute. As a native New Yorker, born and raised in the Bronx, I feel more secure writing papers on this bus than on the train. I can potentially put myself at risk if I have my laptop out on the subway.

With that being said, weigh your options.

What are you looking for in a commute? Where are you trying to go? Compare travel times. Above all, make sure to have at least $6.50 on your MetroCard if you plan to take this route.

May your commute game be as stress-free as mine has become.

View Comments (4)
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About the Contributor
Beverly Danquah
Beverly Danquah, Features Editor
Beverly Danquah is a senior communications major with a minor in international studies, business, and legal studies. She joined the Torch in the sophomore year as a writer, and then became the features editor in her junior year. As features editor, Beverly hopes to acquaint readers with the student body, faculty and happenings. She hopes to tell stories and encourage writers to tell stories that evoke the essence of the little things that make the people and happenings of St. John’s so unique. Have any questions? Email Beverly at [email protected] 
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  • S

    Silvia VegaJan 13, 2020 at 11:08 am

    Since I moved to queens 7 years ago love my x63, love my bus drivers and the people, just found out that my x63 is being reroute that’s really NOT FAIR for the many people including myself that’s being pick up on Merrick Blvd. am less than 5 minutes to my stop in the morning and for my x63 to be reroute is NOT FAIR at all. I really don’t appreciate that it’s going to be very hard for me to get to work and not only me but the family I have on the bus…Please don’t reroute our bus line.

    thank you Silvia Vega

    Reply
  • M

    MarilynSep 30, 2019 at 12:53 am

    The QM4 express bus also operates seven days a week. I have been taking it for well over 30 years. I remember when the fare was $3.00 and it was operated by a private company named Queens Surface. It is known as the 6th Ave. bus because (first stop) from Queens is 164th St. & Horace Harding Expressway then to Jewel Ave. until Queens Blvd. (last stop to board) Takes Qns Blvd to L.I.E. to Midtown tunnel and the drop off is 34th St. and 1st Ave. It runs down 34th to 6th Ave. Takes 6th Ave. to W.57th St. goes down 57th St. to 3rd Ave. (last stop) IT IS WORTH THE MONEY although since MTA took it over, the buses are raggedy and they used to run every half hour but now it’s every hour (during non rush hour) There is also a QM44 that travels via 3rd Ave (similar route as QM4) but mostly only during rush hours and doesn’t operate on weekends. I used to take the bus and train all the time but it is much easier to not go up and down the stairs and you can sleep on the bus. I like knowing that after picking up passengers at the last designated stop, it goes directly to Queens or Manhattan (whichever way you’re traveling).

    Reply
  • E

    Ellen SmithDec 21, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    Please tell me how to get that express bus I live in Suffolk county Deer Park area and I would like to take the express bus to New York City 30 for 34th St. area near Macy’s please respond to my email thank you.

    Reply
  • N

    NickMay 11, 2018 at 10:19 pm

    I can see that I’m not the only one who’s extremely faithful to the MTA’s express bus service. Though I don’t work in Manhattan, I go to YAI at 34th Street/10 Avenue on a weekly basis and many times the subway mostly lets me down with their unreliable service and unplanned delays via track work and whatnot. I’m from the Rockaways and the only express bus near me is the QM17, which takes me around 50-65 minutes from the stop near my place to 6 Av/38 Street in Manhattan. And I must say the QM17 is extremely reliable and sadly, it’s a rush-hour-only route so on midday and weekends, I don’t have the convenience of the route and I still wish to this day they’ll add off-peak service. During days I’m off of work and want to get to Manhattan, I’d rather take an Express Bus than the subway.

    Reply