At January’s Sustainability Series, Public Advocate Letitia James emphasized the importance of making improvements to NYC’s broken, overburdened mass transit system. Specifically, she highlighted the devastating environmental impacts associated with more of the public using taxis, cars, and ride sharing services rather than risk taking subway trains that frequently break down or fail to show up. James also spoke about the need for the NY State government to increase funding for the MTA, as subway fare is often used to subsidize infrastructure for projects upstate.
Next, William Henderson, Executive Director of Riders Council to MTA, spoke about the huge burden the MTA faces every day in bearing over 5 million riders per day on average anywhere they want to go, hugely decreasing street congestion and providing a safe, environmentally friendly, cost effective method of transit for more riders than the next 15 city transit systems around the US combined. Along with that burden, he mentioned that MTA is hugely in debt due to a lack of funding from the state as well as a failure to always take preventative measures in improving train infrastructure, thus leading to expensive upkeep after long-term damage has often already been done. He emphasized that public input via social media, phone, and town halls is necessary to get on-the-ground feedback as to the conditions of our trains, as well as to the types of improvements that would help riders the most (for instance, the count-down clocks have proved a huge success in customer satisfaction, while increasing accessibility for disabled passengers is a vital next step at many stations). For more information, check out www.pcac.org or contact Henderson at Whenders@mtahq.org.
Finally, Nick Sifuentes, Executive Director of Tri-State Transportation Campaign (TSTC), stressed that it’s cheaper and more beneficial to improve bus service rather than rehaul our subway – buses are also better for helping the disabled. Additionally, TSTC supports congestion pricing, which has been in effect in London for ten years and has demonstrated success in Hong Kong. Among other things, congestion pricing would involve placing tolls on the four East River bridges and applying the money collected towards mass transit improvements. Finally, he stressed that change is urgent: forget pilot projects for electric buses, we should work to roll these buses out as soon as we can! Learn more at Tstc.org and Blog.tstc.org, or contact Sifuentes at Nsifuentes@tstc.org.