In Saturday’s New York Times, Jeffrey Zupan of the Regional Plan Association penned an excellent op-ed column on the state of public transportation in New York City. The arguments he makes in his column are pretty much right in line with what I’m trying to do with Second Ave. Sagas.
What do we want our public transit system to look like? We want riders to prefer it to driving, rather than viewing the system as something to be avoided at all costs or begrudgingly accepting it as a necessary evil. We want it to be reliable and safe. We want it to be fast, frequent, nearby and uncrowded. We want it to take us to our three major airports and to emerging job centers like Downtown Brooklyn and Jamaica, Queens, and to our neighbors in White Plains, Jersey City, Newark and Stamford, Conn.
The projects that can make this happen are not fanciful or futuristic. They are measures that are within our grasp. They include new ways of thinking (like ferries in places where ground routes are circuitous and time-consuming), but also common-sense ideas that have long been needed (like buses, with lower floors to make boarding faster and easier, in lanes that are separated from traffic).
There are small things that would alleviate daily frustrations, like electronic signs that would tell us, in a way we can understand, exactly when the next bus or train is arriving. But there are also big things that would expand the capacity and usefulness of our transit system….
A well-functioning transit system is vital to our economy. Everyone — not just transit riders — should help pay for it, because everyone gains from it. Fare hikes may be necessary, but so are taxes. Car drivers see less traffic. Business owners and workers receive more profits and more jobs. And everyone else breathes cleaner air.
There has never been a more important time to improve public transit. The right question is not how we can afford a better system, but what will happen if we fail to pay for one?
This is why we fight for recognition for the transit system. This is why we fight for more funding and sensible congestion measures. This is why we want the MTA to improve its public image and why we want politicians and the public to understand that, while we all want a better transit system, it’s not going to come without its costs. This is why I write this blog everyday.