Last week the Move NY Fair Plan went from concept to legislation under the leadership of Assemblymember Robert J. Rodriguez and fourteen New York City assemblymembers. While the general tenets remain in the legislation, there is one major difference from the plan released in February 2015 by the Move NY Coalition. A09633 establishes the Transit Gap Investment Fund (TGIF): $4.5 billion in dedicated revenues for expanding transit in the most underserved areas of the city — above and beyond what’s proposed in the MTA’s capital plan — and overseen not by government agencies but by City & State elected representatives and citizen advisory groups to ensure the transit needs of the communities are met.
This is the first of a five-part series that explores the borough-specific transit projects identified for TGIF board consideration in the Move NY Fair Plan legislation. Learn about the other boroughs: TGIF Staten Island || TGIF Brooklyn || TGIF Bronx || TGIF Manhattan.
The Transit Gap Investment Fund
Does your subway stop need an elevator? As Katie Greifeld noted in her article, “Despite MTA Progress, Disabled Subway Passengers Must Plan Alternate Routes:”
“42 of the MTA’s 85 accessible subway stations are located in Manhattan, leaving just 43 stations scattered throughout Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. The Staten Island Railway is not considered part of the subway system. There are 17 accessible stations in Queens, 25 in Brooklyn, and just 12 in the Bronx. While Brooklyn is the outer borough with the highest number of accessible stations, that amounts to just 14% of its total stations. The Bronx’s subway stations are 17% accessible, while 23% of Queens’s subway stations are accessible. In comparison, Manhattan’s subway stations are 28% accessible.”
For the first time in history, communities will have a say in where they need funding the most to improve their neighborhoods — elevators, station entrances, rehabbed staircases, and streetscape designs for plazas and pedestrian and cyclist safety. Under the legislation $1 billion will be distributed equally to the City’s 59 Community Districts, whereby district members will take ideas from residents and make recommendations for improving transit accessibility.
$3.5 billion will be dedicated to investing in major transit expansion projects, particularly in areas that have little to no transit options now. The legislation does not dictate which projects must be chosen, but identifies projects vetted by transit and engineering professionals that must be considered by the TGIF board. Many of the projects are inter-borough, connecting residents to boroughs like never before; while some are intra-borough, making it easier to get around in one’s own borough via expanded service.
In 2010, MTA budget cuts created transit headaches for commuters across New York City. In Queens alone, 12 routes were cancelled — in a borough already lacking adequate mass transit options. In 2014, the 7 line saw 1,500 more weekday riders in Long Island City. As more people move into Queens, it will only get worse. Improving and expanding service to Queens is vital to its economic growth.
Ferry expansion will provide service between Queens and the Bronx, Queens and Manhattan.
New Triboro Subway line
This above-ground, below grade subway line will use existing, under-utilized freight rail right-of-way to connect Brooklyn, Queens, and Bronx, with no need to travel into Manhattan. Because the right-of-way already exists, it won’t suffer the same delays in construction as witnessed with the Second Avenue Subway.
New Select Bus Route
A new route will be established along Woodside Avenue.
LIRR Subway Conversion between Brooklyn & Queens
The LIRR Atlantic Avenue line will be converted to an express subway line operated by New York City Transit , connecting Jamaica, Queens to Downtown Brooklyn through Woodhaven,East New York, Ocean Hill, Brownsville, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights.
G Train Capital Investments
This project will extend the G line to Queens Plaza and/or Queensboro Plaza.
Fairer Fares for Queens Commuters
A09633 makes weeklong the CityTicket weekend discount on intracity Long Island Railroad trips, and extends the program to the Far Rockaway station, which is currently excluded. Thus, residents of Southeastern Queens and the Rockaways will benefit from the same reduced price. In addition, A09633 reduces Express Bus fares and will implement the Freedom Ticket proposal for an all-inclusive monthly pass on subways, buses, Express Buses and commuter rail within the five boroughs.
Feasibility Study for Rockaway Beach Subway Line
This study will identify options, costs, and ridership projections for reactivating the LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch Line as a subway line, connecting underserved in far Southeastern Queens with Central Queens and transfers to Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn.
The Bottomline for Queens Commuters
It’s no secret that large portions of Queens residents suffer from poor transit options. In some places, owning and operating a vehicle is the only way to get from Point A to Point B, or the subway commute is so long that many are forced to pay extra for Express Bus service or LIRR service. As Tristate Transportation Campaign calculated in November, the overwhelming majority of Queens commuters rely on mass transit:
Queens residents rely more heavily on transit than cars to get into the CBD than electeds seem to realize. There are roughly 1,031,130 workers who live in Queens, and 305,265 (29.6 percent) of them commute into the Manhattan CBD. Of those CBD-bound commuters, the vast majority (264,051, 86.5 percent) ride transit while only 12.1 percent (36,905) drive. Of all Queens workers, the group that commutes via transit into the Manhattan CBD represents 25.6 percent, while the group that drives to work in the Manhattan CBD represents just 3.6 percent.
Empowering Queens residents and their elected representatives to determine what transit projects are needed is a sure-fire way to fill the transit deserts that have plagued the borough for decades.
For those who need a car, the majority of Queens drivers will see a significant reduction in tolls: under the Move NY Fair Plan legislation, five of six Queens bridges will be reduced by up to 48%: Throgs Neck, Whitestone, Triboro, Cross Bay, and Gil Hodges. The sixth bridge, the Queensboro, will have its tolls reinstated after a 100-year freebie. As Tristate notes, “Just under half of all workers entering the CBD from Queens currently use the Queens Midtown Tunnel. Under the Move NY plan, this toll would not be increased.” If driving north off the Queensboro Bridge, the toll would be the same as the discounted toll on the Triboro.
To learn more about the Move NY Fair legislation, how the money will be safeguarded from robbing Peter to pay Paul, and how the MTA will not be able to return outer bridge tolls to previous rates without losing tolls on the East River bridges, go to www.iHeartMoveNY.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.