Brooklyn Borough President sings a (hopefully unnecessary) swan song for the Z train.
I like what city officials and transit advocates are doing right now. They’re keeping the attention on the MTA’s budget issue in ways that attract cameras and press coverage. Now if only they focus the rhetoric and get the politicians listening.
A day after a very contentious public hearing, two borough presidents and leading members of the Straphangers Campaign gathered in Lower Manhattan to eulogize the doomed Z train. Bobby Cuza had more about this funeral for a train set to vanish if state and city funds don’t find their ways to the MTA:
Transit advocates held a mock funeral today to mourn the loss of the Z line, which the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has put on the chopping block. “Yea, though the Z walks through the valley of the shadow of death, it will fear no MTA plan,” said Gene Russianoff of the transit advocacy group, The Straphangers Campaign.
While the Straphangers Campaign staged the mock funeral with tongue firmly in cheek, it says the loss of the Z train is no laughing matter. Along the same line, the MTA plans to shorter the M train and eliminate J/Z skip-stop service. Although the agency will add extra J trains, the changes will add time to riders’ commutes.
“Someone coming from Parsons Boulevard-Jamaica will have about seven minutes added to their trip one-way,” said Russianoff. “So when you calculate that twice a day, five days a week, that’s an hour of additional commuting time those riders are going to have.”
Joining Russianoff were Manhattan Beep Scott Stringer and his Brooklyn counterpart Marty Markowitz. Stringer had all the right words. “I’m here to tell you that we believe in resurrection,” he said. “And we believe that this battle, which now heads to Albany, we have not yet begun to fight.”
But Markowitz’s presence is far more problematic. According to one report, Marty sounded like, well, himself. “Though the Z train begins in Queens and ends in Manhattan, it is—like the J—Brooklyn to the core,” he said to the cameras. “When trains like the Z die, our City’s economy dies with them. This is why we grieve at this mock funeral today. Let’s hope these are not the Z’s last rites.”
As Cap’n Transit succinctly pointed out, Markowitz has been a vocal opponent of bridge tolls, and right now, those bridge tolls are the MTA’s last and best hope. As I mentioned yesterday, we are again seeing a dearth of leadership and rhetoric. It is, as a mentioned, comforting to see Russianoff on the front lines, but we need to see more pressure on Albany and more pressure on city officials — like Markowitz and Stringer — to embrace East River tolls. A healthy MTA for 100 percent of New Yorkers is far more important than placating the 4 percent of Brooklyn drivers who would be impacted by East River tolls.
But in the spirit of the day, I’ll toast the Z, a train I’ve had the pleasure of riding once in my nearly 26 years of life in New York City. No matter my own ridership figures, nearly 80,000 people will miss it, and that’s a big deal.