Problems with public transportation plague New Yorkers. With crumbling subway stations, long wait times for trains, and an inefficient bus system, there’s a lot of work to be done. Here’s what we can do.
Fix our crumbling stations
Inefficient responses that merely bandage the problems are not the answer. There are two prominent examples, in Woodside and on Coney Island, of crumbling stations that we should be fixing and renovating rather than putting up unstable and expensive metal netting intended to catch debris that could fall on passersby.
Build more protected bike lanes
This is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to improve health and safety for everyone, not just bike riders. Protected bike lanes lead to reduced car travel and pollution, and also inspire the remaining cars to drive more safely. Covid has spurred an increase in cycling; let’s seize this moment and expand the infrastructure for it, throughout NYC and in our own district to better connect Queens Boulevard to Queensborough Plaza, especially given increased interest in cycling because of the pandemic. Not only would this encourage more biking and less car use, especially for shorter trips, we would prevent many unnecessary deaths.
More dedicated bus lanes
Along the same lines, we need more dedicated bus lanes to ensure bus commute times are not impeded by rush hour traffic. Getting to work on time, for many New Yorkers, is something that can ensure or take away a paycheck. Building dedicated bus lanes, especially in transit deserts like Maspeth and Ridgewood, would help alleviate the transit desert while ensuring that we are careful not to contribute to displacement in those areas. The MTA’s Bus Network Redesign, which is currently on pause due to Covid, identifies potential corridors for “bus priority street treatments”, including dedicated lanes, throughout Western Queens and in Maspeth and Ridgewood. This is promising and we should push for as many of these as possible to be built.
Municipal control of New York City Transit
Currently, the budget for the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is determined by New York State. People who do not ride our subways and buses should not be making budgetary decisions for those of us who commute to work on public transportation here in New York City. Municipal control of the city’s public transit systems has been proposed in various forms, and would be the obvious solution.
Accelerate progress on subway station accessibility
The MTA is working on this but progress has been slow, for a variety of regulatory and budgetary reasons. The City Council should facilitate the process in whatever way it can.
This proposed street car along the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront is designed for real estate developers, not residents. It is grossly overpriced and would run through the storm surge zone. Any public transit need along the route would be better served by an SBS line. While the project is not currently moving forward, developers still want it and they are able to think long term and keep trying until they get what they want. Therefore, we must be vigilant in our opposition.