Chris Ward: Next mayor must prioritize transitBy
It seems that I’m not alone in calling for someone with political might to better prioritize transit in New York City. Chris Ward, the former head of the Port Authority, issued a similar plea on New York 1′s “Inside City Hall” earlier this week. As Capital New York reported, Ward urged the next mayor to make the MTA a number one priority.
The region, he said, needs more rail capacity. “By not building that capacity into the lifeblood of this region, which is, for better or for worse, Manhattan,” he said, “we’re gonna get sprawl. You’re going to be seeing the city moving away from its core, you’re going to get inefficient development and the west side of Manhattan won’t get that strong demand for commuters to fill up the office space that hopefully Related will be building very quickly.”
He elaborated on the need for politicians to focus more on transit as well. “The people who rely on the MTA, the men and women who are coming into their job or going out to their job, they’re not taking a car, they’re not taking a limousine, they’re not taking a taxi,” he said. “They’re taking the MTA.”
Ward hits upon a key topic here. For better or worse, the MTA is transit in the New York City region, and we’re stuck with it. So we can either work against it or work to improve it. But the real issue is that while Ward is correct in issuing this call, New York’s mayor can’t do much about the MTA. As I mentioned earlier this week, it’s a creature of the state, and the state exerts far more power over it than the city can. Maybe it’s time to have a serious conversation about returning control over the subways to the city, but we can’t go down that path without fiscal assurances from Albany. Welcome to New York transportation politics.