Last month 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 fourth 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 Queens || TGIF Staten Island || TGIF Brooklyn || TGIF Manhattan.
The Transit Gap Investment Fund
The last new subway station to open in the Bronx was in 1933. For far too long, investments in expanding and improving public transit in the Bronx have failed to materialize.
Any resident can attest to the need for faster modes of mass transit. Last year, Bronx commuters endured the second highest travel times in the country, with an average 43.1 minutes one-way. Multiply that by 10, and you can easily figure an estimated 431 minutes a week — over 7 hours — getting to and from work; that’s, of course, if you work a five-day week. Add in additional workdays or going to other parts of the city during your days off, and it’s a whole lot of time shuffling from Point A to Point B and back — time that could be spent with loved ones, exercising, catching a movie, or just simply relaxing.
All of this is about to change.
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. 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.
$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 the Bronx alone, 6 bus routes were cancelled — in a borough that heavily relies on buses. In 2014, the 5 line had only a 67% on-time performance, extending commute times even longer. And because the Second Avenue Subway line has been under some form of construction for nearly 100 years — and has yet to break ground in the Bronx — overcrowded trains are now a daily occurrence. The 6 line ranked 3rd worst in the system for the “chance to get a seat.” As more people move into the Bronx, it will only get worse. Improving and expanding service to the Bronx is vital to its economic growth.
Ferry expansion will provide service between Queens and the Bronx, Bronx 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 the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn, with no need to travel into Manhattan. Because the right-of-way already exists (i.e. no tunneling is required), 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 on Webster Avenue in the Bronx and along the Southern Bronx East-West corridor.
Penn Access: 4 New Metro-North Stations with Commuter Rail Discounts
This project creates a new Metro-North link into Penn Station, with four new stops near Co-op City, Morris Park, Parkchester, and Hunts Point. Because the right-of-way already exists (i.e., no tunneling is required), it won’t suffer the same delays in construction as witnessed with the Second Avenue Subway.
Moreover, under the Move NY Fair Plan legislation, Bronx residents are eligible for weeklong intracity discounts on the CityTicket program, which currently only allows for weekend discounts. Thus, using this new route will be much more affordable than with current Metro North prices.
Fairer Fares for Bronx Commuters
In addition, the Move NY bill 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.
The Bottom line for Bronx Commuters
It’s no secret that large portions of Bronx 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 Metro-North service.
For those who need a car, Bronx residents will see up to 48% reductions on the Henry Hudson, Throgs Neck, Triboro, and Whitestone Bridges, with no tolls instituted on the Harlem River Bridges. Through the toll swap, travel speeds will be up to 20% faster South of Central Park — where a toll equal to the Midtown Tunnel will be instated — and 5-8% faster on the lead ups to the Central Business District, making commuting by bus much more reliable.
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.