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.