April 12, 2013
By Marc Bussanich
Queens, NY—Council Speaker Christine Quinn presented her transportation vision on Thursday at LaGuardia College. She wants to reduce commuting times to no more than an hour in both directions. She also supports mayoral control of the MTA and acknowledged she’s wary of supporting the remaining build-out of one of the city’s biggest transportation projects. (Watch Video)
“I have to share, I’m a little bit on the fence about finishing the 2nd Avenue subway,” said Quinn.
She noted that building new subway lines are laborious, can take decades to complete and cost about $1 billion per mile to construct.
Instead, she proposed expanding Bus Rapid Transit routes that cost significantly less than subways; approximately $1 million per mile to construct.
She wants to launch 10 new select bus service routes over the next four years as part of her five-point strategy, Fair Ride NYC.
The strategy is predicated on meeting the needs and demands of a changing New York where more jobs are being created in the boroughs than in Manhattan.
“In the last two decades, we’ve seen a net loss of jobs in Manhattan, and continued job growth in every other borough. Our city has changed over time, but our transit system hasn’t kept pace.”
To meet the needs of riders travelling to work in places such as DUMBO, the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the East Bronx, Quinn wants also to expand ferry service and extend Metro North to Penn Station.
Currently there are four select bus service (SBS) routes—Hylan Boulevard in Staten Island, Fordham Road in the Bronx, 34th and 1st and 2nd Avenues in Manhattan. Quinn wants new SBS in the South Bronx, the North Shore of Long Island and Jamaica and Flushing.
She also wants new routes forming a ring of high-speed SBS in Brooklyn and Queens.
“There’s virtually no limit to how many communities we can connect with this select bus ring,” Quinn said.
She believes BRT is a more viable option than, say, a light rail system that she said could take decades to plan and finally build.
“By collecting fares before riders board, providing dedicated bus lanes and running more buses per hour, [SBS has] been able to reduce travel times by 20 percent.”
Building on the success of the East River Ferry, Quinn envisions ferries ferrying additional passengers from Atlantic Avenue, Red Hook, Astoria, Roosevelt Island, 91st Street and Ferry Point Park in the Bronx.
Because ferries played an enormously important role in emergency response after Hurricane Sandy, Quinn wants to maintain the Rockaway Ferry even after normal A train service is restored possibly in June.
Extending Metro North service to Penn Station would include new station stops at Co-Op City, Parkchester, Morris Park and Hunts Points, as well as additional stops along Manhattan’s West Side.
While Metro North ponders an entry into Penn Station, so is Amtrak with plans for adding more service and new high-speed rail service into and out of New York.
LaborPress asked Quinn would the Metro North extension into Penn potentially conflict with Amtrak’s plans, said, “I think the Metro North expansion in no way gets in the way of Amtrak and I think they can work very well together.”
Quinn anticipates new Metro North stations to cost about $600 million, new SBS another $150 million and roughly $3 to $6 million for additional ferry service.
Although she bemoaned the high price tag of $1 billion to build one mile of subway track, nevertheless praised the economic benefits of transportation investments.
“Every $1 billion in transportation funding generates $3.6 billion in economic activity and supports 36,000 jobs,” Quinn said.