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Politics

Constantinides, Miller Bill Would Require Boro-Specific Transit Plans

January 12, 2020

NEW YORK – Council Members Costa Constantinides and I. Daneek Miller on January 8 introduced a bill that requires the New York City Department of Transportation to craft a transit plan for each of the Big Apple’s five boroughs.

This comes amid shifting changes in New York City’s landscape of where people live, work, and leisure within the city. That’s greater demand for mass transit that’s focused on getting from one neighborhood to another, as opposed to moving people to a central business district.

“Even though not all roads lead to Manhattan anymore, we still live under a system that does so,” said Council Member Constantinides, District 22. “We deserve a City-led transit plan that takes a holistic approach to how people actually get around in the 21st century. The DOT can and should run a community led process that takes a forward-thinking view of our streets, and engages with the MTA so faster, reliable, and, most importantly, accessible bus service.”

“Transit is the great equalizer, and yet we are still fighting for basic intra-borough connectivity,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “For years, residents of Queens have contended with lack of service and inefficient routes, disconnecting entire neighborhoods. Eastern Queens, in particular, remains an extreme transit desert, despite decades of outreach and advocacy. This legislation will help facilitate the hyper-local analysis our transit system desperately needs as we work to provide better options for all residents of the borough.”

Constantinides and Miller introduced the bill at the City Council’s stated meeting. As written, the bill would require the Department of Transportation to conduct a transit study for each borough that includes:

  • Assess the conditions for transit in every neighborhood within the borough
  • Identify “transit deserts” within those neighborhoods in which residents don’t significant access to mass transit
  • Work with the borough’s community boards as well as government agencies and authorities
  • Submit a report to the Mayor and Speaker of the City Council within a year of the bill’s passage on the DOT’s findings along with its recommendations on getting New Yorker’s around their respective borough’s easier

Job growth in formerly “bedroom communities” in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx has steadily outpaces Manhattan over the last 20 years, meaning fewer people are commuting into Manhattan for work. Brooklyn saw a 47.9% increase in jobs between 2000 and 2017, according to the Independent Budget Office, while Queens and the Bronx saw 26.8% and 25.2% increases respectively.

The boroughs are often plagued by so-called “transit deserts” in which New Yorkers must walk 15 minutes or more to access subway service. Absent of a large-scale plan by the MTA to expand subway service, advocates including the Riders Alliance have called on the City of New York to make street-level improvements to help accelerate bus service. Look no further than the new 14th Street busway, in which the City banned cars from the once congested Manhattan thoroughfare to create an efficient crosstown connection.

Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on three additional committees: Sanitation, Resiliency, and Technology.

For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.

 

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