Chris Ward: Next mayor must prioritize transit


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.

Categories : Asides, MTA Politics

6 Responses to “Chris Ward: Next mayor must prioritize transit”

  1. Jerrold says:

    Ben, the Post article is not only inflammatory as you say, but also vague. Was anything announced about WHICH LINES are getting WHICH CUTS? The M23, is that line getting the five minute increase in wait time, or the half-minute increase?

  2. “You’re going to be seeing the city moving away from its core, you’re going to get inefficient development …” is kind of dated, no? We’ve already seen that. Look closely, however, and you can see things beginning — I stress that word, beginning — to flow back toward the center, or centers, if one throws a resurgent Brooklyn into the mix.

    I do appreciate Mr. Ward’s attitude and belief; every bit of verbal support is a help. But other forces are at work beyond mayoral politics. And even Mr. Ward falls into the trap of identifying commuters, not riders or passengers or citizens, as the beneficiaries. Think larger and longer, Mr. Ward.

    • Larry Littlefield says:

      It’s more than the beginning. I write reports on real estate and economies all over the country.

      What matters is what is happening on the margin. And on the margin, the demand for urban living exceeds the supply, whereas for auto-oriented living the reverse is true.

      My latest comments on the subject here.


  3. Nick Ober says:

    Ward for Mayor! But seriously, Ward would be a hell of a better mayor than any of jokers we currently have as candidates.

  4. Bolwerk says:

    I concur with Nick Ober.

    But, there is one thing the mayor can do: try. If he doesn’t try, and we continue excusing him/her for not trying, we are stuck with what we have now. Political expectation for the mayor to improve transit means the mayor, the most powerful local official in the state, has to lean on the state to effect change.

  5. Al D says:

    Maybe the city needs a “Transit Czar” type of position.

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