Some of the city’s august candidates for mayor gathered on Friday at a union-sponsored forum on transit issues. I wasn’t invited to cover the event, and I believe that’s due to my stridently anti-TWU stance in recent years. That’s neither here nor there though as according to reports form the event, I didn’t miss all together too much. In other words, the current crop of mayoral candidates — with one glaring exception — are comfortable proposing solutions that won’t happen to problems they can’t control.
Stephen Miller from Streetsblog, Zach Stieber of The Epoch Times and Matt Flegenheimer of The Times all filed reports from the event. The themes were, by and large, familiar: Boo congestion pricing, boo increasing city contributions to transit operations, hooray commuter tax, hooray ferries and buses. The commuter tax is a non-starter in that any mayoral candidate can support it without risking political liability or any action. Buses and ferries are pieces to a larger puzzle that requires Albany action and forward-thinking policies.
One candidate has been calling for more city control of the MTA though. Sal Albanese, a long-shot Democratic challenger, wants the city to have tighter control of its subways and buses, and he recently unveiled a transportation plan explaining why. Christine Quinn and Tom Allon have both made noises around city control over the MTA, but politicians with their hopes on Gracie Mansion know that the MTA can be a political hot potato. Ultimately, the next mayor can help speed up transit innovation by shortening the amount of time it gets for NYC DOT to roll out new bus lanes and by spearheading a true BRT movement. Otherwise, without challenging the current political structure, it will be business as usual for the MTA, Albany and City Hall, no matter who becomes the next mayor.