Quinn: “If we want to remain the economic capital of the world and continue to rebuild our economy, if we want to keep New York a place for middle and working families- then we need to rebuild a transportation system that serves the needs of the 21st Century.”
Queens, NY – City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn today presented a series of proposals for the future of mass transit in New York City. Together, the Speaker’s proposals formed a five-point strategy that uses mass transit as a tool for economic development. Vowing that by 2023, no New Yorker will spend more than an hour commuting to any neighborhood in the City, Speaker Quinn announced a series of significant ideas – Fair Ride NYC – including:
• Establishing New York City Control of the MTA
• Creating 10 New Select Bus Service Routes in Staten Island, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens
• Instituting Mayoral Control of the MTA Board
• Using Public Transportation to Fuel New Development
• Extending Metro-North and Ferry Service in the City
Speaker Quinn’s proposals were presented in a speech delivered this morning at LaGuardia Community College.
Empowering New Yorkers with Local Control of the City’s Transportation System
The vast majority of the dollars that fund New York City Transit come from the five boroughs through fares, tolls and taxes but New Yorkers have little say in how that system is run.
Recognizing that local government is the most directly responsive to the needs of individual citizens, Speaker Quinn proposed instituting local control of the City’s transportation system to speed up commute times and close gaps in the transit system.
Mayoral Control of the MTA Board
Speaker Quinn proposed establishing Mayoral majority control of the MTA Board and giving the mayor authority to directly appoint the President of New York City Transit, two steps toward bringing accountability to the MTA and to making sure majority stakeholders have a majority voice in decisions that impact the City’s trains and buses.
Public Representation on the MTA Board
Speaker Quinn also proposed adding a voting representative of the riding public to the MTA Board to give riders real, meaningful input on their transit system.
Supporting Expansion of the City’s Metro-North, Select Bus and Ferry Service
New York City’s population has grown exponentially, but the City’s public transportation system has been unable to keep pace with population growth in the boroughs outside of Manhattan. To better serve communities in all five boroughs, Speaker Quinn proposed expanding transit access in the City through increased bus, waterway and rail service.
Speaker Quinn proposed the immediate extension of the East River Ferry service and exploring new opportunities to invest in ferries. The expanded service would lower commute times for tens of thousands of New Yorkers and reduce crowding on the roads and subways. The additional Ferry Service would create new transportations hubs and play a pivotal role in spurring additional economic development in New York City. Speaker Quinn also called for keeping the Rockaway Ferry active after the shuttle damaged by Hurricane Sandy returns to service, and adding a “park and sail” facility to encourage even greater ferry use.
Select Bus Service
In her speech, Speaker Quinn proposed extending select bus service in Staten Island, the South Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens to connect neighborhoods, increase job opportunities and reduce commute times. The proposed new bus service routes would mark the beginning of a major expansion of Select Bus Service throughout the five boroughs that would connect countless neighborhoods to each other, providing new opportunities for the New Yorkers who live and work in these communities.
Additionally, Speaker Quinn proposed bringing Metro North rail service to Penn Station, including four new station stops at Co-Op City, Parkchester, Morris Park and Hunts Point, with additional stops along the West Side of Manhattan.
Treat Mass Transit As a Tool for Economic Development
Presenting her innovative vision for the future of mass transit, Speaker Quinn emphasized that the MTA must dramatically rethink how it plans for new transit routes. Instead of focusing on existing demand, Speaker Quinn said the MTA must begin to treat mass transit as a tool for further economic development.
Targeted Economic Development Strategies
By connecting with business leaders, communities and developers, Speaker Quinn noted the city can more effectively develop communities and meet their economic needs. Demographic trends, residential and commercial development data and the input of local stakeholders can all help guide transit planning toward comprehensive and powerful economic growth, similar to what is happening in Brooklyn’s Tech Triangle.
Several advocates voiced their support and enthusiasm for Speaker Quinn’s proposals, including:
NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign
“Ten new Select Bus Service routes around the city in the next four years would mean much faster and more reliable service for hundreds of thousands of riders, many of whom now suffer daily with extremely long commutes. We applaud Speaker Quinn goal that by the next decade ‘no New Yorker will spend more than an hour commuting to any neighborhood in the city.'”
– Gene Russianoff, Staff Attorney
“When Select Bus Service is introduced to a neighborhood, it’s like a light switch is turned on. Select Bus Service is New York’s opportunity to provide communities that have been starving for transportation options with world-class service. It’s a sustainable, healthy and affordable course to connect employers with employees, and businesses with customers, and New Yorkers with each other. In order to seize that opportunity, the City must start by setting an ambitious goal and developing a realistic plan to achieve it – leadership that Speaker Quinn offered this morning.
– Paul Steely White, Executive Director
“Our buses and subways serve more than seven million people every day, but the system faces a perennial funding crisis that leads to long, unpredictable commutes for too many people in too many neighborhoods. We applaud Speaker Quinn’s focus on strengthening public transit as a tool of economic development, and for supporting a stronger City commitment to capital funding and an expansion of the successful Select Bus Service program.”
– John Raskin, Executive Director
Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance
“The vision for the next phase of ferry service in New York City laid out by Speaker Quinn has the potential to reactivate our waterfronts, help even more residents and visitors move around the city easier, all while leveraging one of our great natural resources. This vision is in line with the goals being pushed forward by the MWA and I look forward to partnering with the City in implementing the next steps on this ambitious agenda.”
– Roland Lewis, President and CEO
Pratt Center for Community Development
“We are excited that the Speaker’s transportation agenda prioritizes Bus Rapid Transit as an achievable and affordable strategy for connecting New Yorkers to jobs and opportunity. This vision represents a smart departure from the excessive focus on mega-projects that consume capital funds and facilitate real estate development, but do little to improve mobility for those who need it the most.
“By accelerating Select Bus Service, the Council can bring us a step closer to creating a high-performing inter-borough Bus Rapid Transit network , a transit solution for which Pratt Center has long advocated.”
– Joan Byron, Director of Policy and Elena Conte, Senior Organizer for Planning and Policy
The City College of New York
“Mass transit serves both the employers and workers of New York equally. By proposing an aggressive agenda of continuous improvement for New York City Transit, Speaker Quinn is looking forward to not only an improved transit system, but to an overall improvement of the entire city’s economic well-being.”
– Dr. Robert Paaswell, Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering