Since buses have emerged as a theme on Trainjotting this week, we ease a day closer to the long weekend with a story from the NY Times’ Metropolitan section on the dmise of the QM22 bus, which goes from Jackson Heights to Manhattan twice a day, and will be disbanded when the transit cuts take effect in a few weeks.
Due to the bus’s limited schedule and long ride (think about that…a bus from Jackson Heights to Manhattan, and vice versa, during rush hour, twice a day…), people on the QM22 are extraordinarily close–a “family”, in fact, according to one rider.
The bus cabal even has its own social chairwoman.
The bus’s final run is June 25.
The so-called “Bus People” are typically older women–not quite the demographic for the iPods, iPads and laptops that tend to break up community and shared experience on transit. They’re bummed to think about what their lives will be like when the beloved QM22 ceases to be in less than a month.
The Bus People used to play the lottery together — their biggest win was $81 about a decade ago on regular Lotto — and they give one another birthday parties and baby and bridal showers. There is an annual Christmas party in an Astoria restaurant. In early April, some members gathered at a bowling alley to see an Elvis impersonator, and once or twice a year they take a trip to Atlantic City — in a rented bus, naturally.
When the previous social chairwoman, Mitch Caglioti, stepped down in 2008, the Bus People gave her a dinner party to end all dinner parties, she said. They gave her a diamond cross necklace and a $100 American Express gift card. “Even when people leave, we all keep in touch,” Ms. Caglioti said.
Laraine Amendola, who stopped riding the QM22 regularly when she took a job in Astoria four years ago, still thinks of herself as part of the group. “We all go out to shows and to movies,” she said. “When I get on the bus now, everybody starts screaming.”