Spring 2001, p.14-15

Transportation Blueprint For The Next Mayor

Featured below are T.A.'s recommendations for the next mayor. We encourage you to attend one of the mayoral forums and find out where the candidates stand. Bring your T.A. magazine with you and ask the mayoral aspirants to embrace the 5-Point Sensible Transportation Plan below.

Please vote in the Democratic Primary, September 11 (all the candidates are Democrats) and in the general election on November 6. If you need to register to vote contact the NYC Board of Elections:

Phone: 1-866-VOTE-NYC
Mail: Board of Elections, in the City of New York
32 Broadway, 7 Fl. NY, NY 10004-1609
Web: www.vote.nyc.ny.us

In November, New Yorkers will elect a new mayor for the first time in eight years. It's an exciting time for T.A. All of the leading candidates - Fernando Ferrer, Mark Green, Alan Hevesi and Peter Vallone - are far more interested in the city's transportation woes and opportunities than recent mayors. Judging from the questions asked in mayoral forums, transportation is already being treated as a major issue along with more traditional topics like crime, schools, the economy and social services.
The 5-point transportation plan below was launched in April by a wide range of transit and business groups working under the auspices of the Empire State Transportation Alliance (ESTA). Some of these groups include: Transportation Alternatives, the Straphangers Campaign, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, the Regional Plan Association, the Real Estate Board, and the General Contractors Associations. Additionally, former DOT Commissioners Elliot Sander, Lou Riccio, Sam Schwartz and Connie Eristoff have also expressed public support for the consensus blueprint for sensible transportation.

T.A. members take note of the third point: Make our streets and neighborhoods safer and more livable. This includes a call for car-free Central and Prospect Parks as well as cycling, pedestrian and traffic calming improvements that are the core of the agenda. Take another look at the groups and officials endorsing this plan. All of them endorse car-free parks! Build on T.A.'s momentum, speak out and vote for the candidate who supports sensible and city friendly transportation.

5-POINT PROGRAM FOR BETTER CITY TRANSPORTATION

Getting around New York City is a daily challenge. Our streets are clogged and noisy; driving nerve wrenching and unpredictable. Many of us are in fear of dangerous motorists. Rush hour in the jam-packed subways can often be an ordeal. Our buses are often slow and irregular. Trips to our airports can take as long as the flights themselves.

Many New Yorkers are resigned to a lifetime of commuting woes. Perhaps even more are very skeptical that much can be done. But the next mayor and City Council can make can dramatically increase our mobility and enhance the quality of our daily lives.
Below is a five-point program for better transportation. Many of the steps require help from different levels of government. All will require mayoral leadership. Our groups-a wide array of business, labor and civic interests-calls on the next mayor and City Council to:

Press for much more transit service, less crowding, and faster and more reliable trips.
The city should demand there be no more than a four-minute scheduled rush-hour wait on any of the city's 20 subway lines-and that every rider be able to get a seat in the off-hours. More service for both subways and buses is desperately needed. Transit officials have added 11% more subway service and 27% bus service since 1996. But this had not kept up with the 29% increase in subway ridership and 47% increase in bus ridership at the same time. New York City has the slowest buses in America . As a matter of civic pride, the next mayor should end our last place finish and give buses the priority they deserve on city streets by expanding exclusive bus lanes and redesigning bus lanes and stops to discourage cars from blocking them. The city should also keep pressing the MTA to reduce diesel bus emissions and to have the commuter lines provide more service at lower cost to city riders.

Win real progress on major transit projects essential to the city's future-and press for a "fix it first" policy for bridges and roads.
Transit: In the last few years, state and regional officials have pledged to move ahead on a host of vital new transit projects. The next mayor should demand they keep their promises, including a Second Avenue Subway; linking the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal and Metro North to Penn Station; rail access to our airports; and a rail freight harbor tunnel to reduce area truck traffic. Many
of these promised advances face an uncertain future because of shaky financing. The next mayor should get a real commitment from the state by challenging them with matching city funds-and fighting for new sources of funding, like reinstituting the commuter tax on those who work in and commute to the city.
Roads and bridges: Bridge conditions in the city are far worse than the rest of the state. In 1998, 63% of state-owned bridges within the city rate structurally deficient, compared to 25% elsewhere in New York. Action must be taken soon, or costs will skyrocket and A new mayor should prod the state to make a concerted push to fix highways and bridges now.

Make our streets and neighborhoods safer and more livable.
Calm traffic. Widen sidewalks in Midtown Manhattan and other places where pedestrians spill into streets. Make greater use of the city's authority to lower speeds on side streets using traffic calming measures like speed humps. Expand the "Safe Routes to Schools" pedestrian safety program and make walking in the city safer for everyone. Establish car-free Central and Prospect Parks, along with other pedestrian zones. Strictly enforce the city's truck routes to protect neighborhood streets. Reduce double parking and congestion by charging parking fees for what is now free commercial loading space. Dramatically expand and link a comprehensive citywide network of bike lanes and bicycle boulevards.
Crack down on speeders and other dangerous drivers, install more enforcement cameras and rebuild the city's pedestrian "killing zones" like Queens Boulevard and the Grand Concourse.

Lead by example to reduce congestion and improve transportation decision-making.
Require top city officials to take transit regularly-and cut thousands of unnecessary parking permits for government employees, especially in Manhattan.
Promote "TransitChek," which gives tax breaks to commuters. Only 250,000 area employees are enrolled in this cost-savings program out of a pool of more than five million. Urge city businesses to sign up-and provide all city employees with a range of fare options.
Make transportation a priority. Appoint the commissioner of the city's Department of Transportation to the MTA board of directors. And coordinate all related transportation and planning efforts through a "sub-cabinet" chaired by the head of city DOT.
Increase public confidence in the city's Department of Transportation by improving the basic services the agency provides, from speeding installation of safety signals to fixing potholes to improving service provided by private local and express bus companies overseen by the city.

Make bridge and tunnel tolls much fairer than they are now-and reduce congestion.
Our tolls don't make sense. Some area bridges and tunnels are free; some cost $7 round-trip. Some "free" bridges exact huge tolls in congestion, lost time and frayed nerves. A smarter and fairer system would equalize tolls: by lowering tolls where they exist and tolling free bridges and tunnels. A fairer system would also charge no tolls late at night when there's a less traffic-and encourage off-peak driving with lower off-peak period tolls. Congestion-inducing toll plazas should be replaced with barrier-free high-speed EZ Pass collection systems. These steps would help reduce congestion in peak, create revenues for maintenance and for new projects and build on the value price initiative recently adopted by the Port Authority.

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