Home MTA Politics Thinking about the dearth of Big Ideas

Thinking about the dearth of Big Ideas

by Benjamin Kabak

When Michael Bloomberg ran in 2009 for his third term as mayor, he launched his campaign with 33 changes for the MTA. These ranged from the obvious, with more countdown clocks and a new farecard leading the way, to an impossible plan to implement F express service during the Culver Viaduct rehab to a strange call for free crosstown bus service. Just days after winning reelection, Bloomberg seemed to rollback his promises, calling them mere suggestions instead, and if any have seen the light of day over the past four years, Bloomberg certainly shouldn’t receive the credit.

In 2009, Bloomberg’s problem wasn’t one of underthinking. He had ideas, but they came out of left field. Much as his drawing-on-a-cocktail napkin plan to send the 7 to Secaucus materialized out of thin air, his transit proposals too were developed seemingly with no input for anyone actively engaged in the space. The had their Big Ideas, but those Big Ideas had little to no chance of becoming reality. I still, after all, have to pay for my crosstown bus.

Four years later, we have a mayoral campaign one week away from the party primaries, and there are no Big Ideas. The leading candidates have talked vaguely about more subway service for outer borough residents, increasing the reach of Select Bus Service and expanding the city’s network of ferries. The former MTA head has discussed building a subway to Staten Island (though good luck finding any mention of it on his website), and the guy polling a distant second wants to build a monorail down the center of the Long Island Expressway. Transformative Big Ideas are missing from the discussion, and I’ve been thinking about why.

As my thinking goes, I’ve come up with a few reasons why there are no Big Ideas. The first is a practical one that doesn’t hold up. As the state controls the MTA, most transit expansion is allegedly out of the hands of the mayor. It’s easy for a candidate to wash his or her hands of transit planning if responsibility for funding and operations lies elsewhere, but that’s the easy way out. Mayor Bloomberg wanted the 7 line extension built; he delivered the money; and in less than 10 months, the 7 will terminate at 34th St. and 11th Ave. A mayoral candidate with the right Big Idea could easily see it through.

The second reason dovetails with the first: It’s easy to come up with Big Ideas; it’s less easy to convince voters to pay for them. The 7 line extension cost over $2 billion, and someone had to pay for it. The Second Ave. Subway costs over $4 billion, and the money has to come from somewhere. Paying for Big Ideas often involves convincing voters to fork over more money in the form of taxes or user fees (that is, East River bridge tolls or congestion pricing), and increased taxes or user fees doesn’t win primary voters. Without a way to pay for Big Ideas, any Big Ideas put forward become empty promises.

The third reason concerns timing. The 7 line extension was first proposed during Mayor Bloomberg’s first term; the groundbreaking was in his second term; and the start of revenue service will be during the next mayor’s first term. Even with three terms, Bloomberg will not be in office long enough to see his pet project open up. There will be no ribbon cutting with the mayor and no photo op. As ribbon cuttings and photo ops are the lifeblood of local politics, candidates are more than hesitant to argue for something that won’t see the light of day well after their terms are up. Why should someone else steal the limelight?

Finally, the last reason focuses around the key rule of primaries and, to a larger extent, electoral politics in general: Do not upset your voters. Although New Yorkers support congestion pricing plans that fund transit, primary voters do not. Although New Yorkers want more subway routes, people bemoan the impact of construction to no end. Although New Yorkers recognize the inadequacy of the bus network, removing space for cars and handing it over to buses instead seems to be tantamount to signing your own death sentence. In all cases, too, the people who care the most and have the most to lose, as they see it, turn out to vote in primaries.

All in all, these factors lead to safe and uninspiring campaign promises that candidates won’t try too hard to keep anyway. The problem is partially structural and partially due to the lack of a frontrunner. But here we are, a week away from primary day with no Big Ideas in sight.

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Bolwerk September 3, 2013 - 12:23 am

Re buses, one word: POP. POP on crosstown buses seems a bit more fair. Though, it does require rejiggering fare collection. And speaking of lack of input, Bloomberg also seems to suffer from NIH as much as anyone.

Spiderpig September 3, 2013 - 2:17 pm

POP for all buses. Even if it doesn’t mean “select bus service.” But I suppose that will have to wait until MetroCard 3.0 has been invented, so as not to waste money on soon-to-be-out-of-date fare collection machines.

Bolwerk September 3, 2013 - 3:01 pm

Yes, all surface transit should be POP, but I’m not sure about implementation. I would say just put collection machines on the buses, with provisions for new fare media to be added when it’s available. The next media should make hand-held readers feasible anyway. In the meantime, people can pay with their MC and get a receipt on the bus, like they do with SelectBus except they should be allowed to do it on the bus.

Henry September 4, 2013 - 10:16 am

You could probably have sidewalk machines at major transit hubs such as Flushing, Jamaica, Fordham, the Junction, WBP, and East New York.

I don’t know how feasible a Metrocard machine at every door on the bus would be though – smartcard readers are the size of a palm, whereas I have yet to see a portable Metrocard reader anywhere. There’s also the issue of where to put it – you can slap a smartcard reader on a pole and call it a day, but with a bulky Metrocard machine that’s more of an issue for passenger circulation.

Bolwerk September 4, 2013 - 10:50 am

No need to be NIH about this one. TVMs on buses are a proven concept in Europe. Handheld readers can wait for the next fare media. All they need to do right now is take [exact?] change, print a paper receipt, and accept MCs.

It saves money by centralizing collection and maintenance at the depot too.

Henry September 4, 2013 - 3:59 pm

Well, this is more of a “does Cubic actually still offer this kinda thing?” since the technology is vender locked, and all the Metrocard machines are pretty sizable (whether it’s a TVM or a standalone swipe reader at a subway station).

It’s also kind of an issue because the doors open in and you can’t put such a machine in the path of the doors, and we’re not converting to a Russian turnstile-equipped bus anytime soon.

John-2 September 3, 2013 - 1:24 am

The timeline is one of the main reasons big ideas don’t gain traction — all the headaches of construction are during your term, and the fruits of all that labor end up going to the next guy or gal in office who presides over the ribbon-cutting, after the area dug up for the line and the stations is all neat and tidy again. Bloomberg could do Hudson Yards because the line went into an area that was almost completely commercial/industrial. Other sections of the city are more problematic.

It’s far easier to buy buses and put them on already-built streets and highways than to deal with the Wonderful World of NIMBYs, who have free reign to scream about the horrors the new subway line will hypothetically inflict on their area while you’re in office, and they can’t be proven wrong until the line opens after you’re gone. If it can’t be completed within the four-year election cycle, finding somebody with the resolve (or the personal net worth) to champion it is always going to be difficult.

Bolwerk September 3, 2013 - 10:54 am

Surely politics of office terms has an impact, but it’s not a great explanation – cf., European projects or the rash of building a century ago took longer than a political term too.* Insofar as terms are a factor, it is because we don’t build fast enough, a problem with our process more than a technical limitation.

Still, nobody is gonna remember you for offering more bus service. Even ardent bus advocates typically want buses for others, not for themselves. But you might actually get remembered for building a new subway line.

* albeit I guess there are/were at least concrete milestones every few years with those projects

John-2 September 3, 2013 - 2:58 pm

A lot of the difference involves the modern expectations/immediate gratification of voters within the construction areas.

Go back and look at the images of the cut-and-cover projects the IRT, BMT and even the IND did across the city between 1900 and 1940. Politicians could go beyond four-year plans because the public was willing to put up with the annoyances more in order to have a better transit system afterwards.

Robert Moses’ imperial attitude towards eminent domain housing and land confiscations helped give rise to the NIMBY movement in New York, but like many things that start out with the best of intentions, the movement has gone from keeping government from high-handledly pushing aside local residents for projects that don’t necessarily benefit them to blocking anything from being built, under the credo of “I’ve got mine, and that’s all that matters”.

They make enough noise to make pols wary of extended projects. It’s like the Yorkville Towers situation, where the buildings opponents of the SAS can come up with all the hypothetical horror shows possible to toss into their lawsuits against the MTA, and they can still claim it’s going to happen until the subway finally opens.

Bolwerk September 3, 2013 - 4:27 pm

I’d be curious to know if cut-‘n-cover requires the kind of annoyances people imagine. As is, part of the UES has been putting up with a years-long “annoyance” of having a launch box nearby. The pain probably could have been spread more fairly across the city by making every block put up with it for a few weeks or months, and money would have been saved too.

The key difference between the pain threshold then and now is the adherence to the NIMBYs, who want no “pain” ever, everyone else be damned. In fact, everyone else gets to suffer precisely because they don’t get the transit they need.

John-2 September 3, 2013 - 6:09 pm

I lived on upper Connecticut Avenue when the Red Line was being built in the late 1970s. The main difference between that, and, say the cut-and-cover I remember on Sixth Avenue back in the 1960s was the latter spreads the disruption around, in that you had wooden boards on all blocks from 53rd to 59th streets, while on the Red Line, as with the SAS, the main disruption was to those working or living around the station stops.

The upside, of course, was for the few years of annoyance at being a launch box site, you get a subway stop almost at your front doorstep once it’s over. The problem is now that people know the power of both the lawsuit and going to the media with your complaints, the construction time gets drawn out due to legal delays, if it’s done at all.

LP September 3, 2013 - 3:47 am

This is why I think there’s something behind Matthew Yglesias’ idea that a little corruption can be a good thing. A crooked construction magnate who stands to pocket $50 million from an infrastructure project can take things into his own hands as far as greasing the palms of all the local busybodies in a way that a mayor can’t.
If you think that infrastructure investments have a positive return (and I tend to think that subways probably do, in fairly short order) for society overall, then a 5% increase in cost for such ‘frictions’ is probably a hold-your-nose good deal.
I’m not happy about it, but I’d rather see that than spend the rest of my life bemoaning how underbuilt we are.
(It’s obviously not a panacea nor the only answer; I also think you’ve got the analysis of politicians’ incentives spot-on).

asar September 3, 2013 - 8:24 am

I cant wait until that jerk bloomberg comes out of office.he doesnt deserve to be at any ribon cutiing

Berk32 September 3, 2013 - 9:12 am

that’s nice…

so which candidate are you looking forward to being mayor?


There’s a reason why Bloomberg won his 3rd term even though everyone hates him….

Bolwerk September 3, 2013 - 11:06 am

A reason? Try several million. People liked Bloomberg in 2009 because to an extent he did a good job between 2002 and 2009, at least insofar as he didn’t screw things up. His last term has been a complete waste with little to show but delusional squabbles like the ever increasing futility/brutality of stop ‘n frisk and banning large soda containers.

asar September 3, 2013 - 9:05 pm

Yeah i know why he ran a third term he paid the city a whole lot of money to do it. I want bill de blasio to win the election

Larry Littlefield September 3, 2013 - 8:49 am

“Much as his drawing-on-a-cocktail napkin plan to send the 7 to Secaucus materialized out of thin air.”

Actually that plan was proposed by the Department of City Planning in the 1990s after extensive study. Sandy Hornick, Director of Strategic Planning, was a big proponent. The extension to New Jersey was also proposed. Bloomberg adopted the proposal.

EgoTripExpress September 4, 2013 - 2:57 pm

I heard talk that when that earlier plan was floated, all of north Jersey went apoplectic at the thought of Times Square pimps and junkies pouring out into their subdivisions.

Then when Bloomberg talked it up, the comments posted on north Jersey sites where downright cathartic; they were so deliriously happy at the idea of never needing the PA bus terminal or Penn Station ever again. I even think they day after, one Jersey site was listing all the great restaurants along the 7 train in Queens as if the ribbon had already been cut.

Beebo September 3, 2013 - 9:11 am

The ideas I keep seeing are retreads of old ideas. The 2nd Avenue basically follows the old Elevated route. Someone mentions digging a subway down Columbus (again, an Elevated route.) Am I to seriously believe that the traffic patterns are exactly the same today as they were in 1920s? Or do you get special dispensation on environment approvals if you re-use old routings?

(Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against re-using old routes, by why the hell tear them down in the first place? And for that matter, why can’t we just put up new elevated infrastructure in place of the old? Surely we can find quieter materials than steel– how is the JFK airTrans route, noise-wise?)

Super-bus lines: keeping in mind that bus-only lanes basically takes capacity away from existing roads, and that it takes many buses (all individually driven) to replace one subway trainset, its no wonder these things aren’t getting traction. Plus, I’m just not a fan of buses. I’d sooner see light rail/tram, elevated, or a subway. You just can’t beat the speed of the latter two. The former can at least have articulated vehicles (and NOT be a bus! Ugh)

(I’m trying to figure out why we’d want to have the 2nd Avenue terminate at Hanover Square. Hugely overserved area, that is more residential than in the past. Better a line that goes through the lower west side, hitting the World Finance Center/Goldman’s, than that.)

Berk32 September 3, 2013 - 9:17 am

the 2nd ave El was only taken down because they planned on digging the subway. The 4/5 has been overcrowded for many years.

No politician will ever consider thinking to build els thru residential areas (communities would never let it happen). The JFK AirTran doesnt go thru a residential area…. That’s why the N will never be extended to LGA.

llqbtt September 3, 2013 - 9:35 am

Perhaps if our bus system was made more reliable and faster, some of that bum rap would wear off. However, it seems that buses suffer from the same problems for 40 and 50 years and substantive, system-wide change has yet to be developed and implemented. A consumer with a choice will pick the better product, and bus service is, for the most part, at the bottom of the barrel.

alen September 3, 2013 - 11:10 am

the air train is quiet, but the train is only a few cars. and those hold a lot less people than a subway car and the tracks aren’t compatible with normal tracks

Bolwerk September 3, 2013 - 11:19 am

Perhaps you’re right about old routes, but consider that some of those old el routes still have some of the busiest bus services in the city. The key point of SAS is offering east side to Midtown service; the east side already has pretty good access to the WTC, so it’s probably not a good idea. The 4/5 Fulton stop is right near Church.

(Ping Phantom: this is one way the SAS could feed the Lex.)

Maybe this is a bad reason, but here is the reason I can come up with for Hanover Square being the terminus. Part of the point of the southern SAS is to offer service to transit-starved LES and Chinatown and those areas might have ridership that would want to get to the Financial District, which makes Hanover Sq. a good choice.

Larry Littlefield September 3, 2013 - 12:19 pm

I’d just have the train hook into the Rutgers Street tunnel via a connection north of Delancey, where a transfer would be available to the J. The Rutgers Tunnel would hooked up to the BMT on the other side.

Stations south of 63rd — 55th, 42nd, 14th Street (L) and East Village (maybe) along with Delancey and East Broadway.

The goal would be to pull some of the Brooklyn, Queens and Upper East Side riders heading to East Midtown off the Lex by providing a semi-express, while saving money on stations.

Henry September 4, 2013 - 10:18 am

In its FEIS, the MTA listed serving Water St and the Seaport as the main reason for the Phase IV routing, due to the fact that it required a lengthy walk from most subway stations and had an extremely large concentration of office towers and new office construction.

lawhawk September 3, 2013 - 9:36 am

Cocktail napkin plans are about as good as we’re going to get from this crop of pretenders/contenders for the mayoralty. None of them are big thinkers, even if they’re proposing misguided one-off ideas to get transit advocates off their backs for a day or two.

Transit is the lifeblood of the economy and it’s going to take more than a few words to get action.

It’s going to take money, and the next mayor should be moving to restore its share of funding for MTA projects. Same with the state. Neither is willing to do that. That’s a major source of the money crunch for the MTA.

The city and state should be coming up with the funding to get transit expansion projects underway – to help underserved areas. Instead, we get talk of SBS and ferries, neither of which are effective in the areas not currently served by subways. Extending the subway to Staten Island is a good idea, and if the Staten Islanders who currently have to endure the highest tolls in the nation to get on/off the Island knew that a significant portion was allocated to a new transit connection, they might take the costs a little better than they are.

Getting to a state of good repair takes a whole lot of money too, and deferred maintenance issues is something we’re still dealing with – as is the long term consequences of the Sandy flooding/damage.

And it also means holding Gov. Cuomo accountable for not getting funding and plans lined up to make that happen. He’s gone silent on transit issues, and his one signature plan – the Tappan Zee bridge replacement – lacks integrated rail/dedicated bus rapid transit – due to cost (even as the agreed upon design came in under the estimated budget).

alen September 3, 2013 - 9:51 am

they need to upgrade the signaling on the existing system. they can dig all the tunnels they want to expand but you can still run only so many trains over the existing system.

for some reason it seems to be taking forever

SEAN September 3, 2013 - 10:47 am

There’s one more issue to consider & that’s the mindset of “no we cant.” We as a nation finantially speeking have become fixated on blowing billions of dollars on wars under the buzwords fredom, fighting terror amung others. Could you imagine what we could do with just a portion of those dollars to extend & rehabilatate the transit network in the tri-state area? But as it is, when a big ticket project comes along – all of a sudden you’ll here “we cant aford it” by polititions, finantial watch dog groups & don’t get me started on the NIMBY’s who will screem bloody murder just because there ideal neighborhood might change.

alen September 3, 2013 - 11:07 am

i don’t know about Iraq, but afghanistan was about access to natural resources. there is something like $4 TRILLION worth of metals in afghanistan waiting to be mined including a lot of rare earth minerals that are needed to manufacture most of our high tech devices.

we have a lot of them in the USA but its a huge environmental issue to mine them so china does most of the mining now. they also found a lot of rare earths earlier this year on the ocean floor near Japan

Bolwerk September 3, 2013 - 11:37 am

The point of Iraq was some mix of personal vendetta and cock swinging.

But when did rare earth metals show up in Afghanistan? I never heard of such a thing.

alen September 3, 2013 - 12:01 pm

the russians found some evidence in the 80’s but couldn’t do a lot of the work to get detailed estimates. US geologists were sent there shortly after the war started and that was the estimate they gave. it was either in national geographic or some magazine. i read about it a few years ago.

i’ve read rumors and conspiracy theories that the real reason for the war was that we were negotiating with the taliban government to build a huge oil pipeline through the country in the late 90’s and 2000. they said now and 9/11 was our excuse to attack. but i bet the fact that afghanistan had lots of potential rare earths was a big factor of sending troops there.

it has been known for a while that china is running out of rare earths. the USA has a lot of them, but mining them poisons the land and water and no one wants it close to them. i read about the discovery off the coast of Japan in the last year or two

SEAN September 3, 2013 - 12:53 pm

One way or the other, it was about extracting natural resources. 9/11 was the sweetner that made the medicine go down easy. As Dick Chainey so aply put it, “The American way of life is non nigociable.”
http://www.lionelmedia.com WPIX-TV’s commentator Lionel has covered this subject in great detail. To what degree he is correct is still up for debate, but it’s still better then the rest of the news coverage you get in the states.

As I said above, what we could have done with just a fraction of the money spent on these wars.

alen September 3, 2013 - 12:57 pm

yep, almost every single war the US has ever fought was for trade, access to natural resources and any other economic reason. not for nonsense like we are the good guys and have to help others

Phantom September 3, 2013 - 9:01 pm

World weary off topic sophomoric bullshit.

This is a transit blog

SEAN September 4, 2013 - 10:55 am

Did you even bother to read the point above? It came down to what we could have done with our finances instead of Middle East bullshit.

Nathanael September 7, 2013 - 11:38 am

What’s really interesting is that if you look back in history, most of those wars are dropped “down the memory hole”.

Who reads about the Phillipine War? The dozens of US invasions of Central America in the 19th Century? The “Indian Wars” to steal Native American lands?

The wars which had some justification get many pages in the textbooks; the far, far larger collection of wars fought on behalf of United Fruit or other greedy thieves…. are simply not mentioned in the textbooks.

This is why your average American might believe that the US has only been in 2-5 wars since WWII. In fact the US has been involved in dozens and dozens.

Henry September 4, 2013 - 10:20 am

The Pentagon released a report a couple years after Afghanistan, with a kind-of-important asterisk mentioning “It might be difficult due to political conditions.”

asar September 3, 2013 - 9:13 pm

Wow ! Thats intresting. And we’re relying on china

Alastair September 3, 2013 - 10:30 am

As you say, no-one dreams big any more, but it’s not just the politicians. The idea of an expanding the subway just isn’t on the average voters mind, when it was one hundred years ago.

As a techie type, I’ve been trying to think of ways to kickstart people’s imaginations and this debate. Maybe a ‘historical’ trip planner, allowing you to see how your trips would have looked back when the third and second ave elevated trains were in service. Or maybe one using the FutureNYC plan you posted a few days ago…

BoerumBum September 3, 2013 - 11:08 am

Marry the “FutureNYC Trip Planner” idea with targeted grassroots campaigns (e.g. Showing residents of Co-Op City what their commute times could be), and you’ve got the makings of a movement.

Alastair September 3, 2013 - 11:34 am

The problem is how to do it without being intellectually dishonest about missing timetable info.

For the historical one, thinking about how fast the El trains ran- how often, etc. etc., not to mention the timetables for the lines that still exist today. For the FutureNYC one, you have a ton of new lines. How regularly do they run? What impact would that have on existing lines?

Basically, it seems difficult to do without overstating the case and giving people the impression they’d be getter better service than they really would, or understating the case and making it less interesting.

BoerumBum September 3, 2013 - 11:41 am

Completely valid point (Especially when we’re talking about the buildout of entirely new lines), but with the FutureNYC/Co-Op City example, wouldn’t it be fairly simple to project out the timing of a D Train running with standard rush-hour headways traveling an extra X number of stops?

Alastair September 3, 2013 - 12:37 pm

Yes. For individual cases it would be simpler to set up. But I’d much prefer to create something that encompasses the whole city, thus encouraging people to “thing big”. Maybe the FutureNYC plan isn’t the right one at all, but it could at least start a conversation.

Something to think on, anyway.

Henry September 4, 2013 - 10:21 am

Well, a better indicator would probably be the Queens Blvd local (since that’s a better stop spacing to go by since we’re not four-tracking new builds anymore), and that averages 18MPH.

David Brown September 3, 2013 - 1:29 pm

The problem with BIG IDEAS is they are just that ideas ( see some of the concepts pushed by the Municipal Art Society for Penn Station as just one example). There is so much involved with just getting a major project started ( let alone finished ) is not funny (NIMBY’s are just one component ( and not the biggest, that is of course, finances)). Is there an approach that might pay for upgrades and extended means of Transportation? Yes there is..,. Raising fares ( provided their Its a lock box approach where some might go to a theoritical “D” Train Expansion, some to the Second Ave Subway and some might to a Chambers St Station (J) renovation). But based on the difficulty of tolling free bridges good luck with that. Basically, if in the next 20 years, we get the full length Second Avenue Subway, and Metro-North Service to Co-Op City, we will be lucky. A “D” train expansion in the Northern Bronx? Good luck.

johndmuller September 4, 2013 - 12:02 am

The free bridges could be partially tolled as is done on some (no longer completely) free-ways where one or more lanes are subject to a toll and the rest remain free. Then the people whose time is worth so much more than ours could demonstrate it by ponying up to feed the MTA capital fund.

Greg September 3, 2013 - 10:29 pm

The title of this article deals with the dearth or scarcity of big ideas. As per my old college prof an idea goes through three stages:
1) It is ridiculed. It will never work.
2) It costs too much. It is violently opposed.
3) It was a great idea all along and is self evident.

There is no shortage of big ideas,just the shortage of political will to provide the funding to execute them.

Nathanael September 4, 2013 - 6:30 am

There are big ideas. They just aren’t getting executed in *New York*.

Think about it for a minute and look at what other cities are doing.

Nyland8 September 5, 2013 - 4:18 am

Good observations Benjamin … and one of the reasons why a project like the Quadboro RX could gain political traction. It’s manages to be a Big Idea that can be cut into bite size pieces, and it’s a pitch that can be made to all 5 boroughs.

Being based on an existing ROW, IF it is built in phases like the SAS, a mayor might see a ribbon cutting photo op … or 2 … or even 3 in a single term in office. Make it the Big Idea that won’t go away, no matter who is in Gracie Mansion.

Build a phase from 62nd & 14th out to New Lots Ave – Put a stop at Ave H and one at Brooklyn College -sketch in a few station locations for future expansion (“I’ll promise to build you an F Line link at Ave I, and a new station at Kings Hwy!”) – cut a ribbon – take a picture – Voila! Repeat the process.

Now you’ve got Queens clamoring for their slice of the pie. Start to extend the M from Middle Village out toward Astoria – cut some ribbons – take some pictures – get reelected – repeat the process. The Big Idea – but in small enough bites to chew and swallow … (and fund)

Remind Bronx and Staten Island that their pots of gold are at either end of the rainbow. Pretty soon you’re jockeying for a third term loophole a la Bloomberg. Even if you don’t get reelected again, you’ll force the future candidates that follow you to keep the promise.

Soon enough the Brooklyn and Queens segments will get connected; The Bronx will start stomping their feet and demanding their link; St. George will be eyeing Owls Head, longingly waiting for their day to come. Never cease reminding the electorate that the Big Idea was always designed to connect ALL the outer boroughs.

Before you know it (read: “In my Grandchildren’s lifetime”) there’ll be a one-seat ride from Arlington to Van Cortlandt Park. In fact, NAME the Big Idea. Come up with a catchy Madison Ave hook.

“Take the train from …


SPUYTEN DUYVIL TO KILL VAN KULL !” (are there any Dutch still in the city?)

RICHMOND COUNTY BANK BALLPARK TO YANKEE STADIUM !!” (the climb for all aspiring baseball players)

ST MARYS TO ST GEORGE !!!” (from virgin birthers to dragon slayers)

A politician doesn’t have to see the whole thing done in their single term in office. They just need to be able to open a few more stations along the way, and before you know it, we’ve got a respectable transportation beltway that spurs development, reduces commuting times, eases service shutdowns, bypasses storm flooding, etc, etc.

On a scale of human political achievement, this is very doable.


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