Faster, Fairer, and Fully Funded

The Albanese Transportation Plan

Introduction

New York City's mass transit system has enabled a few small cities to become five united boroughs and has fueled economic growth in each one. Millions of New Yorkers depend on it to get home, to school, to the doctor, to visit family, and to do business. Simply put, transportation is the pulse of the city.

Unfortunately, a dysfunctional government has let mass transit fall behind, with quality nosediving as costs skyrocket. During the past five years, transit riders have seen their fares increase four times. By 2015, when the next hike kicks in, riders will have been walloped with a 35% increase over just eight years.1 That is twice the rate of inflation and a slap in the face to working New Yorkers. If we stay on this course, we could be paying more than $3 for a ride by 2021! Drivers are getting hit hard, too. The cost of crossing the Throgs Neck Bridge is projected to rise from $13 today to $51 by 2030!2

Our current path is simply unfair and unsustainable. Whole neighborhoods have been stranded without any access to mass transit, while those that have access are saddled with higher fares and fewer services. As a result, our economy, our communities, and our position as a global capital are suffering.

We can, and we must, do better. The world’s greatest city deserves the world's greatest transit system. As Mayor, I plan to deliver just that. My vision for transportation will revolutionize the way we move people and goods around the city and restore New York City’s place as the most forward-thinking transit city in the world.


Part I: Making It Faster

New Yorkers account for nearly 40% of all mass transit riders in the United States.3 Yet, we have the slowest commuting times of any major city in America.4 Every extra minute that we spend in our cars or on the train is a minute not spent getting the job done at work, helping our kids succeed at school, or making a difference in our neighborhoods. New York is a fast-paced city, and we need a transit system that gets residents where they need to go as rapidly as possible, no matter how they travel.

By Bus:
Every day, more than 2 million people ride buses in New York City.5 For many seniors, disabled riders, and students, buses are the only way to get from point A to point B. Unfortunately, these lifelines have been slashed drastically in recent years, and our Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system lags far behind other world cities. The success of BRT globally and on the few routes we have in New York City is evidence enough that these “subways on the streets” are key to the future of mass transit.

As Mayor, I will embrace that future and make busing a priority in New York City. I will:

• Launch an unprecedented expansion of the wildly-successful Select Bus Service by adding 20 more routes by 2018.

• Restore local and express bus services cut in 2010, which generated little savings for the MTA at enormous costs to transit-starved neighborhoods.


By Ferry:
Each year, more than 30 million people in New York City travel by ferry.6 Ferry hubs stimulate local economic growth and play a crucial role in preserving the waterfront as a public space for all New Yorkers to enjoy. Like Express Buses, ferries are especially important to communities where rapid service to Manhattan is the highest priority.

As Mayor, I will strengthen existing ferry routes and expand service to the neighborhoods that need it most. I will:

• Work with New York State, New Jersey, and the Port Authority to develop sustainable regional financing for ferries and to integrate them with ground- based transit services.

• Re-establish ferry service to the South Shore of Staten Island and southwest Brooklyn.

• Strengthen existing service between the Queens-Brooklyn waterfront and 34th Street and Pier 11 in Manhattan.

• Explore new ferry service to coastal areas of Brooklyn and Queens.


By Train:
The majority of New York City’s commuters ride the subway. Unfortunately, creating new lines has proven to be a herculean and astonishingly expensive task, as evidenced by the 2nd Avenue line. But, this does not mean that there is nothing we can do. From providing real-time arrival information to upgrading our signaling system, smart investments can drastically improve the ride.

As Mayor, I will embrace new technologies that make our subway rides faster and safer. I will:

• Expand Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) to improve headways and safety. CBTC is currently used only on the L and 7 lines, while other lines rely on an outmoded and inefficient signaling system.

• Accelerate the implementation of real-time digital technologies that alert riders to train delays and allow riders to track trains before swiping a MetroCard. Informed riders are happier and make smarter decisions about how to travel.

• Install track sensor technology to alert conductors to objects on the tracks, saving lives and avoiding major delays caused by accidents.


By Car:
Motor vehicles play a big role in keeping New York City running. Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers live in public transit deserts, where cars are the only viable option for long distance travel. Commercial vehicles supply our homes, grocery stores, medical facilities, and schools with essential goods and services. Yet moving freight through our city’s streets is so sluggish that we lose an estimated $13 billion per year in decreased productivity and pollution-related health problems.7

While incentivizing and planning for mass transit in the long-term, I will fight to make car travel faster for those that need it most. I will:

• Launch a series of enhancements to our highways and roads to improve the flow of traffic across the city, especially on the Belt Parkway, Van Wyck Expressway, and Staten Island Expressway.

• Reduce the number of vehicles on the road by expanding the city’s car-sharing program and investing in aforementioned mass transit initiatives.

• Reduce congestion and reroute commercial traffic by rewriting our tolling formula and creating a fairer transportation system.


Part II: Making It Fairer

A central pillar of my campaign is building a fairer New York. To accomplish that, we have to address the gross inequities in our transportation system. Today, we punish drivers who have no other way to move around and reward those that have several transportation alternatives. We put the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers at risk with poorly-designed roads. We let out-of-touch bureaucrats mismanage transit finances, and then saddle straphangers with unsustainable fare hikes. But my plan will change that.

As Mayor, I will unite New Yorkers – drivers, riders, pedestrians, and bicyclists – with a common vision, one that transforms an unhealthy and unfair transportation system into one befitting of a global capital.


A Fair Shake for Every Borough
Currently, we charge drivers high tolls where there are limited mass transit options, such as Staten Island, the Rockaways, and other parts of Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. Meanwhile, drivers who have multiple alternatives pay nothing to enter the most congested parts of New York City. This makes no sense! Adding insult to injury, the free East River Bridges draw huge numbers of commercial vehicles and drivers looking to avoid tolls, directing them onto our city streets rather than our highways. Some of our neighborhoods have to battle clogged and dangerous roads all day, every day, as a result.

We need to write a sensible formula that implements tolls in areas where congestion is high and mass transit options are plentiful while reducing tolls in areas where options are limited. This is both fairer and better for business. Smarter tolling will reduce congestion, cut travel time on our streets, and dramatically improve the flow of commercial goods through the city.

As Mayor, I will break the political gridlock and finally put fair tolling in place. I will:

• Create performance-driven tolling, lowering prices during off-peak periods.

• Significantly reduce tolls on the Verrazano, Gil Hodges, Throgs Neck, Cross Bay, Whitestone, and RFK bridges.

• Implement open tolling systems on the East River bridges, with discounts for vehicles-for-hire and certain commercial vehicles and trucks.

• Eliminate the parking tax rebate south of 86th Street in Manhattan, which rewards car ownership where mass transit is most plentiful.

• Create a surcharge on vehicles-for-hire that travel below 86th Street in Manhattan.


Safer Streets for Every New Yorker
Over the past decade, more New Yorkers have been killed by car crashes than gun violence.8 Vehicular fatalities are one of the invisible public health crises in our city. Speeding accounted for 26% of these deaths, more than any other single factor.9 We’ve made significant progress in recent years, but many neighborhoods remain plagued with dangerous roads and intersections.

Our sidewalks are also seriously problematic. Where road traffic is dangerous, bicyclists feel safer by breaking the law and riding on sidewalks. This puts them and pedestrians at risk for collision. Even worse, some neighborhoods lack well-maintained sidewalks and street crossings altogether. Though our city has finally begun to address some of these issues, many neighborhoods have been left out of the planning process altogether.

Changing our streets isn’t easy. In recent years, improvement projects have often been forced on communities with little local input. This is unfair and counterproductive to fostering the strong, interconnected neighborhoods that make New York City a great place to live. Consulting with the community must be a central principle when changing streets or adding bike lanes.

Working together, we can make our streets safer and fairer for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians in every borough. Here’s how:

• Create a Mayor’s Task Force for Safer Transportation, which would systematically examine reports on road and transit safety, consult with community groups and representatives, and submit recommendations to the Department of Transportation, NYPD, and Department of Planning.

• Convert underused street space into pedestrian plazas, improving the flow of vehicle traffic and giving New Yorkers new public spaces to congregate and rest.

• Expand bikesharing and our network of protected and shared bicycle lanes in neighborhoods where demand is high and safe cycling routes are limited.

• Significantly reduce speeding by aggressively lobbying Albany to approve the
use of speed cameras around senior centers and schools.

• Increase NYPD enforcement of sensible traffic laws as part of the Albanese Public Safety Initiative. Announced in January, my plan for policing hires 3,800 more officers to patrol and build trust in communities.10

• Commit to keeping sidewalks and streets in good repair, no matter what neighborhood they are in.


Part III: Fully Funding It

New York City’s transportation system lags behind for one simple reason: political dysfunction. For decades, a corrupt political system and an amorphous, unaccountable MTA have starved mass transit, roads, and bridges of the funds they need. A recent report by the New York State Comptroller shows just that. Poor fiscal oversight and a labyrinthine system of investments have left tens of millions of dollars on the table when mass transit needs it most.11 In recent years, this has led to a rash of unsustainable fare hikes that put an immense burden on New Yorkers. While expanding TransitChek and other programs can make the ride more affordable, we must think bigger.

As Mayor, I will finally put the transit system on solid financial footing with new management, new sources of revenue, and smarter investing. I will:

• Lobby aggressively for city control of the mass transit system, ending an era of buck-passing and giving the reins back to city and borough leaders who must answer to New York City residents.

• Direct 2/3rds of the estimated $1 billion in new revenue from equitable tolling, the elimination of the parking rebate, and vehicles-for-hire surcharges to fund mass transit. Direct the remaining 1/3rd to maintaining roads and bridges. Safe bridges and tunnels are essential to drivers and mass transit riders alike.

• Explore and implement value-capture mechanisms, like negotiated contributions from developers and tax increment financing, which prioritize funding for mass transit. Example: if a development adds significant transit congestion but limited vehicle congestion, the developer could contribute funds to the addition of a new bus route in the area instead of unused parking spaces.


Part IV: What Does a Faster, Fairer, & Fully-Funded Future Look Like?

Responsibility at City Hall
For too long, finger pointing in Albany and financial mismanagement at the MTA has resulted in little more than fare hikes and frustration for New York City transit riders. Who do they blame? The Mayor. And that makes sense! The current framework allows Albany, which has to balance the Bronx’s interests with Buffalo’s, to avoid taking real responsibility.

Mass transit is a city service, and the buck should stop at City Hall. When the stairs of a subway station are unsafe, City Council members can investigate the problem firsthand. When a toll hike threatens to put more families in debt, they shouldn’t have to pay that same toll to go rally against it in Albany!

Like other cities around the country, this change in management would not mean a change in state funding. In fact, state legislatures and the federal government have a responsibility to invest more in mass transit on a local, regional, and national scale.


Money in the Pockets of Middle Class Families
Even with a resident discount, many Staten Island families pour more than $500 per month into tolls. Over ten years, that sum could pay for a good college education! Meanwhile, mass transit riders pay more year after year and get less in return.

With an increase in ferry and bus service, the implementation of fair tolling, and fiscal responsibility, we can actually put money back in their pockets.


A Better Deal for Businesses
Small businesses often operate on a thin profit margin and cannot afford when employees and deliveries can’t make it through the door on time. Giving every New Yorker more mass transit options, and quicker ones at that, reduces road congestion for commercial vehicles and makes it easier for employees to get to work and on time.

From wasted gas to longer delivery times, congestion costs New York City businesses to the tune of $13 billion per year.12 Congestion also drives away customers who don’t feel like fighting over sidewalk and parking space just to grab a bite or buy a product. With fair tolling, congestion will be reduced and commercial vehicles will get treated fairly, including discounts for those that use clean technology. It all adds up to a net win for any business owner.


Fairness for The Five Boroughs
My plan provides benefits for every New Yorker in every borough, including those who have been footing the bill for a mass transit system that they can’t access. Residents in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island will finally get a fair shake with an increase in Select Bus and ferry services and the implementation of fair tolling.

For those drivers with limited transit options, the savings will be significant*:

Verrazano Bridge:
Current EZ Pass Fare = $9.60
Proposed EZ Pass Fare = $4.60

Gil Hodges Bridge:
Current EZ Pass Fare = $1.80
Proposed EZ Pass Fare = $0.80

Cross Bay Bridge:
Current EZ Pass Fare = $1.80
Proposed EZ Pass Fare = $0.80

Throgs Neck Bridge:
Current EZ Pass Fare = $4.80
Proposed EZ Pass Fare = $2.30

Whitestone:
Current EZ Pass Fare = $4.80
Proposed EZ Pass Fare = $2.30

RFK Triborough Bridge:
Current EZ Pass Fare = $4.80
Proposed EZ Pass Fare = $2.30

 

Building a faster, fairer, and fully funded transportation system requires collaboration. As Mayor, I will be open to new ideas and will actively seek input from transit experts and community groups. Working together, we can finally deliver the services that New Yorkers want and put New York City’s transit system back on track!


 
*Based on EZ pass tolls for cars. Numbers do not factor in resident discounts or a smart tolling system that would determine fares based on congestion. Estimated fares provided by Sam Schwartz Engineering. Note: These numbers will increase in March, 2013, with anticipated toll hikes.


1 http://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/oct12/100312.htm
2 http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/politics/2012/10/6538405/sam-­‐schwartz-­‐warning-­‐51-­‐bridge-­‐tolls-­‐targets-­‐ crescent-­‐opposition
3 http://www.census.gov/prod/2010pubs/acsbr09-­‐5.pdf
4 http://prattcenter.net/transportation-­‐equity-­‐atlas
5 http://www.mta.info/nyct/facts/ridership/
6 http://www.waterfrontalliance.org
7 http://www.nyc.gov/html/planyc2030/html/theplan/transportation.shtml
8 NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
9 NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
10 http://www.salalbanese2013.com/public_safety
11 http://www.lohud.com/
12 www.pfnyc.org/reports/GrowthGridlock_4pg.pdf

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- Sal Albanese
Five Boroughs, One Future