As folks gather tomorrow with friends and family to share good food, storytelling, and perhaps a bit of football — all in the spirit of giving thanks — we thought it an apropos moment to reflect on what New Yorkers can and can’t be thankful for with regard to our metropolitan transportation network that includes roads and bridges, subways, bus routes, commuter rail, tunnels, and bike/pedestrian paths. With over 14 million people coming into and out of the MTA’s 12-county service area on weekdays, a well-funded, properly maintained, and modernized system is one that boosts our economy and improves our quality of life. Something to ponder over that second helping of stuffing:
“If New York’s bars and restaurants seem crowded at night, consider this: during the day, commuters from the other boroughs and outside the city nearly double Manhattan’s population, from 1.6 million to 3.1 million.” New York Times, June 3, 2013
Moving this many people around a city of islands is no easy task. Subway ridership has hit a 65-year high; congestion is wretched; outer borough residents continue to pay steep tolls on bridges where there is little public transit available, while those who have plentiful transit options yet choose to drive into Manhattan’s Central Business District via East River bridges any way, pay nothing; and last but not least, our tolls and fares have increased 17% and 26%, respectively, since 2010.
The good news is that there are city, state, and federal officials willing to work on behalf of their constituents to try and better our system. The bad news … well, there’s a whole lot of work to bring it to fruition.
4. 10 states in the nation
have increased their contributions to transportation infrastructure through a variety of means (increased gas tax, vehicle/license fees, etc) in the 2015 legislative session, and another 14 have similar bills introduced in one or both chambers
5. New York added 168,600 new jobs
in the last month, with unemployment dropping to 4.8%
2. The MTA cut $1 billion from its 5-year capital plan for stretching the Second Avenue Subway
to 125th Street
3. Federal government funding for transportation investment hasn’t budged since 2009; the gasoline tax — a dedicated revenue stream to keep our roads and bridges safe — has remained at 18.4 cents/gallon since 1993. If adjusted for inflation, we’d be paying around 30 cents/gallon
today. If Congress doesn’t reach a deal by December 4, 2015, the Department of Transportation has warned that the Highway Transportation Fund could run dry.
5. One out of three poor New Yorkers reported
that they are often unable to afford subway and bus fares. Coupled with limited public transit options in lower-income neighborhoods, there is a large swath of New Yorkers who are cut off from higher paying jobs, education, and healthy food options.
There’s a lot of work to be done in Washington and Albany in the coming months to ensure that our transportation infrastructure receives the amount of funding it so desperately needs. Consider sending a message to your elected officials, thanking them for committing to fund the MTA’s capital plan and urge them to adopt the Move NY Fair Plan to solve our congestion problems, unfair tolling system, high fares, and transit deserts.
We’d be forever thankful!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, The Move NY Team