If you are a student who lives on or close to campus, chances are you ride the Q46 bus frequently. You may have also used the St. John’s shuttle bus service. The reality is, unless you have a car, you are going to be faced with riding one of these buses to get into Manhattan.
Take a ride on the Q46 and you are likely to encounter a packed bus that doesn’t always run on schedule. Taking a ride on the Q46 can sometimes feel like you are in a human sardine can or crayon box.
You’re forced to fight for footing, and at times must literally fight your way into the mass of other irritated passengers. If it’s raining or snowing, the experience worsens catastrophically.
The congestion of the Q46 is caused by the lack of buses running on the Union Turnpike route, a route that is one of the more populated in all of Queens.
In addition to St. John’s, the Queens Hospital Center, E and F train subway stops and access to Queens Boulevard and Kew Gardens are all places of major commuter interest that draw large amounts of daily riders.
Because of the stress that comes with riding the Q46, many students may find themselves researching the St. John’s shuttle service in hopes of a more convenient, cheaper, and comfortable transport to the city. However, their hopes will probably be deflated upon consulting schedules.
Like most services offered at St. John’s, the shuttle service dramatically declines during the weekends, leaving it an unlikely option for residents. The pearl of the St. John’s shuttles is the Kew Gardens-Queens campus shuttle, which runs hourly Mondays through Thursdays until around 11 p.m.
This shuttle dramatically falters on Fridays, however, with service halting at 5:40 p.m. In addition, there is no Kew Gardens shuttle on Saturdays or Sundays. Overall, this service is almost useless for resident students who need a subway shuttle service on the weekends when they are going off campus.
The next option that students may explore from the St. John’s shuttle services is the “Queens-Manhattan NYC Weekend” shuttle bus which runs back and forth from the Queens campus to midtown Manhattan Friday through Sunday. At first, this bus sounds like a fantastic free option – but the inconvenient and minimal schedule may lose most students’ interest.
On Fridays and Saturdays there are two buses offered to Manhattan, a 4 p.m. trip and an 8 p.m. one. Subsequently, there are two buses back to the Queens Campus at 5:35 p.m. and one at midnight. Because of this, students may feel like Cinderella, hurrying to catch the bus back to campus at 12 a.m. On Sundays, buses leave Queens at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., returning at 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
The second downfall to this service is that there is only one Manhattan drop-off location, the AMC Theatre in Times Square. With these snags in the weekend service, it’s no wonder that the shuttles often depart close to empty with more students choosing to pay and rough it out on the Q46 and subway.
What this means is that we’re more inclined to convenience, even if it does come at the cost of a MetroCard. The bottom line here is that while the Q46 is a battle and the subway is dark and foul, they bring us closer to where we need to be and when we need to be there.
But still, wouldn’t it be nice to see a weekend shuttle service at St. John’s that makes stops downtown, midtown, and uptown more frequently throughout the day?
Anything from additional buses to added hours would improve the service from what it is now. St. John’s should look at other New York area schools such as Fordham University, which offers their students the frequent “Ram Van,” a transport for students to local subway stops and numerous other city stops around the clock for a smaller fee than a MetroCard. For security’s sake, the school also has a Fordham security guard present at select stops during the night.
For a school that so proudly declares itself “metropolitan,” shouldn’t St. John’s offer its students the same services and opportunities? Hopefully in the future we may be fortunate enough to see bus reform at St. John’s. Even slight changes would dramatically make a difference for students who depend on bus transportation.