We Like Buses, but Not the TLC, say NYC Mayoral Candidates

They like buses. They really really like them. But the New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission -- not so much. On those issues, at a mayoral forum devoted to transportation issues, the candidates found common ground.

Bill Thompson wants to reinstate the commuter tax and charge vehicle registration fees based on weight, which he said would "allow for an increase in bus service across the city of New York." John Liu also wants more fast buses.

And Anthony Weiner wants NYC to have control of the MTA "to put bus rapid transit on Atlantic Avenue."

Although not present at Wednesday's debate, that same day Bill de Blasio released a policy book in which he calls for 20 new SBS lines. Chris Quinn is also a big SBS aficionado.

Joe Lhota, the former head of the MTA, also wants mayoral control of the agency -- but said the likelihood of that happening was slim. So in the meantime, because "the city of New York has significantly more input into the buses, we need to expand the SBS bus service, we need to expand more of the (express) buses coming in from Staten Island and Queens."

Adolfo Carrion's transit priority: "We need to improve bus service in the city. We need bus rapid transit expansion."

“New York City has 2.5 million bus riders," said Noah Budnick, the deputy director of Transportation Alternatives. "Select Bus Service is going to be the fastest and most cost-effective way to expand the transit system." And whereas a subway line takes years -- if not decades -- to come to fruition, an SBS line can be laid down in as little as a year's time, with no more outside agency cooperation than the blessing of the NYC DOT.

Meanwhile, what wasn't getting the love at the debate: NYC's oft-sued Taxi and Limousine Commission, which candidates derided as secretive.

"Honestly, this is one of the agencies that needs a great deal more sunlight into how it operates, how it carries out its functions," said John Liu. Anthony Weiner said the TLC has "an enormous amount of activity going on behind closed doors" and that it's "anti-free market," citing the Taxi of Tomorrow. Sal Albanese took a swipe at Bloomberg by saying "my TLC commissioner would make sure all the stakeholders would be at the table."

John Catsimitidis has another idea. Build a monorail, which he called an "aboveway."