TRANSPORTATION JUSTICE: MOBILITY AS EQUITY

With 20 minutes between B48 buses, Emily has plenty of time to chat while waiting. Great for neighborhood catch-ups, terrible if you actually want to go places.
  • Transportation is a basic right 

  • Green, safe and reliable options for all neighborhoods

  • Money for service and accessibility, not new cops

  • Challenge the dominance of cars on our streets

New York’s transportation system is a triumph and a tragedy, a monument to collective labor and ingenuity and a symbol of the decades-long assault on our public institutions. Our subways and buses move millions of people a day from home to work and school, to see our families and friends, visit a doctor or go to the beach. But the system is also starkly unequal, leaving parts of the city stranded, stressed or endangered.

Years of neglect, financial mismanagement, poor oversight, and distorted priorities have created a slow-building disaster. In 2017, an investigation by the New York Times revealed in stark terms “how the needs of the aging, overburdened system have grown while city and state politicians have consistently steered money away from addressing them.” The same year, cascading crises of overcrowding, chronic delays, and derailments led Governor Cuomo, who controls the Metropolitan Transit Authority and rarely rides the subway, to declare a “state of emergency.” 

We’re at a similar juncture on our streets. Over the past century, the dominance of the privately-owned automobile gobbled up ever more public space in our city, leading to pollution, congestion, and deadly crashes. Despite laudable efforts like Vision Zero, the introduction of CitiBike, and the slow but steady expansion of protected bike lanes, 2019 has been the deadliest year for cyclists in two decades–at the very moment when the climate crisis demands more people make green transportation choices.

Both above ground and below, there have been some promising developments. After years of cajoling, New York adopted the country’s first congestion pricing plan, which could generate $25 billion in new transportation funding and reduce traffic in Manhattan. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s “Master Plan” represents the kind of future visioning we’ll need to break the car culture and build a more livable city. And the transformation of 14th Street into a dedicated bus-way has been a massive success

We need to set out our priorities, exercise our collective power, and fight for reliable, green public transportation as a basic social right.

Money for better service and accessibility, not new cops.

  • We have crumbling infrastructure and chronic delays on multiple lines. Only about a quarter of New York City’s 472 subway stations in the city have elevators — one of the lowest percentages of any major transit system in the world.
  • Instead of prioritizing a more safe, reliable, and accessible subway system, Governor Cuomo pushed a plan to hire 500 new MTA cops. The Riders Alliance found that the $250 million the MTA will spend over the next four years alone on these new officers could bring a 15% increase in midday and weekend service. 

Expand Fair Fares. 

  • After years of organizing, in 2018 the City agreed to fund half-priced MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers. By early 2020, Fair Fares will be available to all New Yorkers who live at or below the Federal Poverty Line. 
  • Thus far, the project has been entirely city funded. The state needs to contribute. I’ll fight for new state funding to cover reduced price MetroCards for all New Yorkers who make less than $58,450–the actual definition of low-income in our high-cost city. 
  • Many low-income New Yorkers don’t know they’re already eligible for reduced price MetroCards. Instead of running a massive campaign warning people against fare evasion, I’ll work to get the MTA to donate advertising space across the system to promote the Fair Fares program. 

No more fare hikes for *anyone.* Explore new revenue sources.

  • The state should force the MTA to declare a moratorium on any further fare increases and actively explore rolling back previous hikes. The MTA’s budget can’t be balanced on the backs of working New Yorkers. 
  • In addition to congestion pricing, the state should secure new funding streams for improved service, greater accessibility and lowering fares, including a new, more aggressive tax structure for millionaires and billionaires in the greater metropolitan area.

Expand the G train to a full eight-cars. 

  • Before Gov. Cuomo’s last minute, unilateral decision to upend the L train shutdown, plans were in place to expand the length of the G train to a full-eight cars. They have since evaporated.
  • With G train ridership continuing to grow, the MTA should revive these plans and finally provide the full train capacity that Greenpoint and Williamsburg need. 

Exercise oversight powers.

  • The MTA’s Capital Plan represents a meaningful break from years of disinvestment and neglect. But it needs committed oversight. We need additional, focused public hearings as the MTA embarks on its ambitious plans.
  • Following the lead of the TransitCenter’s Build Trust campaign, I’ll advocate for a transparent, public and easy-to-understand online project tracker to report on construction progress and cost.
  • Wherever possible, we should also benchmark costs for upgrades and accessibility projects to other large cities with old rail networks.

Support the bus network redesign. Provide additional funding. 

  • New York City has the slowest buses in any major city and a network based on outdated employment patterns and residential segregation. The MTA’s current redesign process is an important development that should be supported with additional resources and community input. 
  • Bus schedules are still based around the typical 9 to 5 jobs, while increasing numbers of working New Yorkers commute at all hours of the day. 
  • One of the main buses that serves our district–the B62–was graded a “D” by Bus Turnaround based on speed and reliability. I’ll advocate for more overall service, dedicated lanes, and signal priority at choke points for our B62! 

Reform the DMV testing process.

  • We need to update New York’s driving standards to include new testing on cyclist and pedestrian safety.
  • People who move to New York from other states should have to retake the driver’s exam to learn local rules.
  • We need a top to bottom assessment of how the state can support local efforts to improve bike and pedestrian safety. 

Study and support green delivery options

  • More than 1.5 million packages are delivered in New York City each day, contributing to greater gridlock, pollution and danger to cyclists and pedestrians.
  • The state should study regional and local planning options to support safe and green last-mile delivery for packages.
  • Explore subsidies for neighborhood package distribution centers, where workers rights to unionize are explicitly protected.
  • Legalize e-bikes and e-scooters. Stop criminalizing delivery workers!