Last night, Democratic primary candidates from City Council districts 2 and 4 participated in a candidate forum on the L train shutdown, hosted by Transportation Alternatives and the New School Center for New York Affairs, moderated by Gothamist City Editor Christopher Robbins, and co-sponsored by the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, Pratt Center for Community Development, and Riders Alliance.
Candidates agreed that with a 15-month L train shutdown impending in 2018, the safety and movement of New Yorkers is a priority. Dedicated bus and bike infrastructure were nearly universally cited by candidates as major elements of any mitigation effort. While several candidates shied from making specific demands to exchange private automobile lanes for space to create improved bus services and safe bike lanes, consensus was reached on the need to minimize vehicle trips. A number of candidates pointed to the need for a robust “PeopleWay” transit corridor along 14th Street, designed to prioritize efficient buses, bikes, and pedestrians while limiting private vehicle access.
The participating candidates spoke to over 275 constituents about their ideas for navigating the impending 2019 L Train shutdown. From City Council District 2, candidates Carlina Rivera, Mary Silver, and Jorge Vasquez, and from Council District 4 candidates Vanessa Aronson, Maria Castro, Rachel Honig, Jeffrey Mailman, Keith Powers, Bessie Schacter, and Barry Shapiro were in attendance.
Transportation Alternatives expects all City Council candidates to have real transportation policies that benefit New Yorkers, the majority of whom walk, bike, and rely on public transit -- especially when these New Yorkers are identified as the priority of nearly every candidate. City Council members have tremendous impact on local transportation policy through their oversight capacity of the Department of Transportation, their relationship with the Mayor’s office, and the annual budgeting process. With 250,000 daily commutes at stake, the scale of the L train shutdown crisis demands leadership.
Other ideas presented during the forum included time-of-day high occupancy vehicle restrictions on the East River bridges and 14th Street, parking reform, Bus Rapid Transit, improved Access-a-Ride service, the MoveNY tolling plan, and the Fair Fares plan for half-price Metrocards for low-income New Yorkers.
Transportation Alternatives and the cosponsors of this forum do not support or oppose any candidate for elected office.
Primary Election Day is September 12th.