The Q4 bus route constitutes a public transit corridor running along Merrick Boulevard and the easternmost portion of Linden Boulevard in Southeastern Queens, New York City, United States. The route run from the Jamaica Center transit hub and business district to Cambria Heights near the Queens-Nassau County border. The Q4 also provides limited-stop service along the corridor during peak weekday hours. Originally operated by Bee-Line Incorporated and later the North Shore Bus Company until 1947, the route is now operated by MTA Regional Bus Operations under the New York City Transit brand.
The Q4 begins at Bay C of the Jamaica Center Bus Terminal. It runs east on Archer Avenue to Merrick Boulevard, then south along Merrick Boulevard to Linden Boulevard. This corridor is shared with the Q5, Q85 and the Q84 (formerly the Q4A). The Q4 then diverges east along Linden Boulevard, running through St. Albans and Cambria Heights. The route terminates at 235th Street adjacent to the Cross Island Parkway, which marks the border with North Valley Stream in Nassau County. Travel into Nassau County requires walking several blocks east to Elmont Road to transfer to the n1 route of the Nassau Inter-County Express.
During weekday rush-hour periods, the Q4 employs limited-stop service. These buses skip all stops north of Liberty Avenue and Merrick Boulevard, using a bypass via 160th Street and Liberty Avenue, and make all local stops east of Francis Lewis Boulevard (near Springfield Boulevard). Limited-stop buses operate in both directions during AM rush hours, and towards Cambria Heights only during PM rush hours (during summer weekdays: mornings toward Jamaica and afternoons toward Cambria Heights). During the morning rush period, alternate peak-direction (Jamaica-bound) local buses begin service at Francis Lewis Boulevard.
The Q4 operates out of the Jamaica Bus Depot on Merrick Boulevard near Jamaica Center, as do several other routes in southeast Queens.
The X64 express bus begins at 235th Street, running along Linden Boulevard to Farmers Boulevard. It then runs on Farmers Boulevard, Liberty Avenue, the Van Wyck Expressway, and Queens Boulevard towards Midtown Manhattan.
What is now the Q4 began service in November 1919, running from Union Hall Street station in Jamaica along Merrick Road (Merrick Boulevard) and Central Avenue (also known as Foch Boulevard or Westchester Avenue; today's Linden Boulevard) to Bank Street (now 201st Street) in St. Albans, just west of Francis Lewis Boulevard. In December 1923, the route would be operated by Bee Line, Inc. At this time, service on the eastern portion of the line to Springfield Avenue (Springfield Boulevard) was provided by Bee Line's Farmers Avenue (Farmers Boulevard) route (today's Q3). The exception was a three-week period in July 1927, when Merrick Boulevard-Central Avenue service was extended east to Springfield during construction on Farmers Avenue.
Bee Line originally operated from 163rd Street and Jamaica Avenue in the Jamaica business district. On October 1, 1930, the Bee Line routes began terminating at the newly constructed Jamaica Union Bus Terminal near its former terminus. The new bus terminal was located at Jamaica Avenue and New York Boulevard (now Guy R. Brewer Boulevard), adjacent to the Union Hall Street station.
As constituted in December 1930, the Jamaica-St. Albans route (designated Route No. 4) ran along Merrick Road and Central Avenue to Farmers Boulevard, south along Farmers to 119th Avenue, then east along 119th Avenue (the current Q84 route) to 196th Street. In January 1931, the city altered the franchise (designated "Q-4") to continue on Central Avenue to 223rd Street in Cambria Heights.
On August 11, 1936, the Bee-Line routes were moved to the newly opened 165th Street Bus Terminal (then the Long Island Bus Terminal). In early 1939, the Q4 franchise was awarded to North Shore Bus Company; at this time, the Cambria Heights Civic Association requested an extension of the route from 227th Street to 236th Street at the Nassau County border. In May 1939, Bee-Line relinquished its Queens routes including the Q4. These routes began operation from the terminal under North Shore Bus Company on June 25, 1939, as part of the company's takeover of nearly all routes in Zone D (Jamaica and Southeast Queens). The northern terminus of the Q4, Q4A (predecessor to the Q84), Q5, and Q5A was moved once again to Hillside Avenue and 168th Street, near the 169th Street station of the IND Queens Boulevard Line, on October 27, 1939.
In early 1945, the Q4 was extended from 227th Street to its current terminus at 235th Street near the county line. At this time, short run service was operated to Francis Lewis Boulevard. Following the extension, the route was frequented by residents of nearby Valley Stream towards Jamaica. This led to crowding on the route and complaints from Queens passengers. On March 30, 1947, North Shore Bus would be taken over by the New York City Board of Transportation (later the New York City Transit Authority), making the bus routes city operated. Under municipal operations, service on the Q4 was increased on April 3 of that year.
On December 11, 1988, in conjunction with the opening of the Archer Avenue Subway, the northern terminal of the Q4, Q4A, and the other Merrick Boulevard routes was moved to the Jamaica Center Bus Terminal. That same day, the Q4A was renumbered Q84. In January 1993, the Merrick Boulevard routes began traveling on Archer Avenue in both directions. Previously, terminating buses traveled along Archer Avenue, while southbound buses traveled via Jamaica Avenue.
In September 2003, limited service on the Q4, Q5, and Q85 was expanded during AM rush hours, beginning earlier in the morning. On January 14, 2004, the MTA instituted the current limited-stop bypass in the Jamaica business district via Liberty Avenue and 160th Street. Reverse-peak limited-stop service was also added to the Q4 during morning hours.