Jessica Gould covers politics and public finance for WNYC.
Candidate Thompson Chimes In With NY Transpo Plan
Monday, August 19, 2013 - 01:39 PM
Like his fellow Democratic mayoral candidates, Bill Thompson says he has a plan to improve transportation in New York City.
Against the backdrop of a Staten Island bus depot and flanked by the rank and file of a local transit union late last week, Bill Thompson promised increased bus and rail access to transit-hungry commuters in the outer boroughs. That's something a recent report has found lacking in NYC's transit system.
Thompson highlighted plans to expand the City Ticket program during weekdays, allowing those traveling within the city to ride Metro North and Long Island railroad for the same price as a single subway ride. He promised faster buses, saying he would create a "true" bus rapid transit system in Staten Island and Southeast Queens, a reference to the popular new SBS express buses which are considered "bus rapid transit-lite" by international standards. Bus rapid transit gives buses their own protected lanes and creates something more akin to a surface subway with unobstructed rights of way.
“We have a vast network of transportation options throughout the five boroughs but many neighborhoods have little to no access to it,” Thompson said.
The former comptroller also called for using federal dollars to prepare bridges, tunnels, airports and subways for future storms. He advocates a weight-based registration fee to generate funds for the transit system. And he called for shorter commute times—facilitated by expanded ferry service, the restoration of eliminated bus routes, and installation of more countdown clocks in subway stations.
Much of these policies he has been touting piecemeal in speeches, candidate forums, and surveys to transportation groups.
Several Democratic candidates have come out with transportation plans in recent weeks, with most advocating increased bus and ferry service, supporting a revised commuter tax to pump funds into the MTA, and more bike lanes.
For example, Christine Quinn promised to continue many of Mayor Bloomberg’s initiatives, but stayed mum on bike share and congestion pricing. She also proposed mayoral control of the MTA board, while Bill De Blasio said he would fight for a fully funded Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel, and advocated increasing the amount of freight that arrives in the city by rail instead of truck.
More on where the candidates stand on transportation here.