Door to Door: Public Policy and Your Commute

Monday, September 21, 2009

The WNYC Culture Department has launched a new series, Door To Door exploring the way we commute. Robert "Buzz" Paaswell, director of the University Transportation Research Center at City College, will guide the discussion throughout the month and help you redesign your commute.

Today: How does public policy affect your commute? What one policy or infrastructure change would make a big difference in your door-to-door? Comment below!


Robert "Buzz" Paaswell

Comments [24]


Being from Bergen County, I find it rather impossible to "redesign" commuting. I can't wait until they actually redesign it and make it a lot more accessible. I'm about to head back home but before I do, I'm going to enter this Ride Free Sweepstakes my friend referred me to. You can win up to a years worth of free commuting. How cool..
You can just enter through this website:
Apparently you can re-enter every week when they choose winners. Nice. Enter asap and best of luck.

Oct. 02 2009 06:01 PM
Jane from Brooklyn

thoughts on transport in NYC:

Bikes - give more to bikers - but expect more -eg following traffic rules like not jumping traffic signals/riding correct way down streets; also having lights on bikes and reflective clothing. Cliched maybe but Rights bring Responsibiities.

Subway - cheap and works pretty well but grotty and dirty, terrible signage/communication - where are the platform LCD displays? why do some station platforms not even have maps? Why do some trains only have 2 maps both stuck behind peoples heads?

Parking - why no residents parking (it's a money earner!); where are the underground car parks? why cant you park next to hydrants like in rest of world ( firehoses are not 30 feet wide!)? Why not have better quality manual street cleaning that doesnt entail alt side parking?

I cld go on - I won't.

Sep. 23 2009 10:32 AM
Russell Bartels

The far outer borough districts need an urban park and ride at stations and BRT stops based on self-drive, very small, all-weather, electric vehicles that can be parked in large numbers with minimum curb space. They are economical than buses, and much more convenient.

Sep. 22 2009 01:24 PM

Thank you "John from queens", you nailed it.

I'm so tired of "bike lanes" being presented as some sort of magic cure-all..Sure, build em, but not in lieu of a massive improvement to our mass transit system - including the double headed beast of MTA (Mgmt) & TWU.

First step - NYC has to take over control of NYC transit - take it out of Albany's corrupt hands.

Sep. 22 2009 11:36 AM
Drew Martin from NYC

Drew Martin, Director of the Museum of Peripheral Art interviews Richard Blumenfeld about his drawings and Commuter Art:

Sep. 22 2009 08:25 AM
Maira from just moved to East Harlem

Just until a week ago, I was living in South Orange New Jersey for a year and I used to commute every day to NYC. I have a bike and I like to use it for my daily life. I had to take the New Jersey Transit train, and I couldn't bring my bike during peak hours, that means not going until after 10 am, and couldn't come back before 8 pm. If my day finished at 5 pm I had to spare time till 8. And some days I couldn't take my bike at all cause I had to be in NY at 9:30.
If they really want to turn bikes into a solution, they should be more open and give more chances not only to New Yorkers, but to commuters too.

Sep. 21 2009 11:36 AM
anon from nyc

Isn't it _amazing_ how much energy is spent linking CT and NJ to sporting events while one of the NYC boros STILL gets left out. It is time Staten Island gets serious attention paid in getting our NYC residents real mass transit options and better connections.

The city needs to:
Spend less on _cosmetics_: it would be better to have train frequency, maintenance and cleanliness improved than to have lovely art installations in a place where we _really shouldn't have the time_ to enjoy it. Isn't the new #1 South Ferry terminal just *lovely*? However the number of trains turned around per hour is lower, so even though each train can now load via all cars, that only means more people taking longer to get to and from work. And the bottle neck gets passed on up the line.

Spend less on unnecessary and improperly used gizmos: if you aren't going to use the P A system for real info, don't waste the money just to tell us to "Have a nice day".

Hire competent companies: next time be sure the contractors servicing the escalators and elevators actually know how to keep them working.

It is time to get Staten Island on the subway system. We pay as much, if not more, for _very_ long commutes. If there is even a slight delay in the system, many of our free transfers expire (yes, it is true, many SI commuters take nearly 2 hours to get home). We have a minimum of 2 changes to connect home to work: either an express bus to Manhattan then transfer to local, or ferry to Manhattan and transfer. Some have 4 or more transfers each way by the time you add in getting TO/from the ferry on S I side. We are _city residents_ and our needs should come before worrying about getting CT and NJ residents to the Meadowlands more easily.

Sep. 21 2009 11:28 AM
ed from Staten Island

2 points
1) David Byrne is imagining things when he talks about a Copenhagen cultural shift towards biking. I lived there in 1980s and bike transport was a well established fact. You can even see evidence of it it a in a key scene in movie with Willam Holden that takes place in the 1940s called "The Accidental Spy" where bike commuters enable the protagonist to dodge Nazi captors in Copenhagen.

2)The one public transportation change that would affect my life most would be to increase SI Ferry service to a minimum of 1 per half hour. Mayor Blooomberg vetoed a bill to that effect when the city was flush with cash, because it would have added a paltry $5 million per year to the city budget. Thanks to that I have spent 2 1/2 hours commuting to Manhattan on the weekend. In general the DOT has completely mismanaged the Ferry Service. The retail space in the St. George ferry terminal has never been rented. Most of the automatic doors don't work, making it a nightmare for disabled people. And the latest generation of ferries is constantly breaking down. In the meantime upwards of a million dollars has been spent on tropical fish tanks. Couldn't you devote one segment to this?

Sep. 21 2009 11:23 AM
StatenIslandOptionsguy from Staten Island

Staten Island has not recovered form the loss of cars on ferries after 9/11. Every other ferry has the ability to monitor traffic on ferries and ensure safety. Is NYC the only location that cannot?

Sep. 21 2009 11:16 AM

In Bergen county, we can't even go from one end of town to the other without taking our cars, needless to say from one town to another. And some towns within the county have such bad service to Manhattan that unless you are willing to drive 20 minutes to a train/bus station, you have to take you car.

I absolutely dislike driving and there is nothing more I would like than being able to ditch my car but while I am living in Bergen county I can't.

Raise taxes on gas and use that money to build a decent public transportation infrastructure. Until I see that, all the talk about fighting global warming at the town, state or country level is nothing more than lip service.

Sep. 21 2009 11:10 AM
Amy Sara Clark from Ditmas Park, Brooklyn.

Brian talked about how raising tolls would harm poor people more. But what if the city used money from the tolls to run more buses in underserved areas. Those buses could take people to train stations, and there would be no need for them to drive. Or, if not that, money from the tolls could be used to build parking garages around train stations. There should be no one who is forced to drive to Manhattan.

P.S. I live near a train station that many people drive to, and I could live with a parking garage in my neighborhood.

Sep. 21 2009 11:09 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Speaking of commutes, I’ve been waiting for Calls’em to appear so I can ask about his new commute. Seems like when I was away Friday, he moved from Langley AFB in Hampton, Virginia (as clamed on Thursday) to Langley in Fairfax County Virginia (from his posts on ACORN). That 181 mile three hour commute must be brutal! Check it out on Google Maps below.,0&sz=13&sll=38.938983,-77.175522&sspn=0.076908,0.132008&ie=UTF8&ll=38.11295,-76.508789&spn=2.489395,4.224243&z=8

Sep. 21 2009 11:06 AM
John from queens

Finally, someone that addressed the difference in size between NYC and Copenhagen! It's less than half the size, and 1/8th of the population. At least once a week Brian has someone on that tells us how bicycles are the cure for all our transportation problems. Nobody is driving into the city for the pleasure of it. Mass transit is FAR more important to implement than bike lanes. Although I'd personally find it funny if all the bike activists made it so difficult to commmute into the city that suburbanites moved back into the city, and priced them out of any neighborhoods within biking distance of Manhattan.

Sep. 21 2009 11:06 AM
Ana Silverlinck from East Village

Bike friendly? The current in-road lanes mean nothing to a majority of drivers. In the past few months I have had two friends severely injured by cars during their commutes. I liked Bloombergs idea to limit/charge cars entering the city because there's a lot of unnecessary and bad driving in Manhattan.

Also, I'd like to see a few dog-friendly buses. Boston does much better with pet-friendly transportation, what's up NYC?

Sep. 21 2009 11:03 AM
Old Timer I giss

Ha ha -- someone from the Bowery complaining about the trash! Classic

Sep. 21 2009 11:01 AM
Ana Silverlinck from East Village

Sorry, I have two things...

For a long time, I commuted from Brooklyn to Manhattan by bicycle. A few of my friends do as well. In the past few months two of my friends have been hit by cars (both injured quite severely). I want to see Manhattan do a better job at being a bike friendly city.

I would also like to see SOME pet-friendly buses (provided the pet is properly licensed - and the MTA could sell an additional permit/pass). When I lived in Harlem I was able to bring my dog to work, but had to walk her 87 blocks to do so. I understand liability is an issue, but I stress "some" buses. Also, my dogs behave 20 times better than many humans that I've shared the bus with! As I understand it, Boston's public transportation is far more pet-friendly, what's up NYC???

Sep. 21 2009 10:58 AM
Kate from Brooklyn

Bike parking!!!! The ONLY reason I don't ride my bike everywhere is because I'm nervous about locking it up and it being stolen. Are we going to have a bike-share program? That would change everything.

Sep. 21 2009 10:58 AM
RLewis from bowery

Subway fares should be based on how far you travel. I only need 4 stops to get to work, so why should I pay the same rate as someone who uses 20 stops every day? Other subways systems do it, and the technology is there, so let's have people pay for what they use.

....And bring back the commuter tax. Why should outsiders get to come in and trash my neighborhood, but pay nothing to clean it up?

Sep. 21 2009 10:58 AM
hjs from 11211

why can't NY's bike riders be protected with a raised curb the way they are in europe.
PS I would like to ask bikers to stay off the sidewalks please!

Sep. 21 2009 10:56 AM
Winston from Queens, NY

I think we need infrastructure to develop High Speed Trains. This will open up the city and allow residents to live beyond the city limits (i.e Hudson valley) and reduce congestion in the boroughs.(i.e.parking)

Sep. 21 2009 10:54 AM
superf88 from

A New "Good Place to Live" Criteria:

Conversion of streets' shoulders into bike lanes vs. parking

Sep. 21 2009 10:53 AM
antonio from park slope

Reinstate the commuter tax.

Sep. 21 2009 10:53 AM
rylee from manhattan

The change of management by political appointment is damaging to the organization and progress,for MTA--new governor/new CEO, new heads of agencies--previous progress gets wiped out or redirected, costs money, and demoralizes the organization. Transit needs continuity, to plan and sustain changes which are positive to the system

Sep. 21 2009 10:52 AM
NJ Transit Train Commuter from North Plainfield, NJ

If the tunnel currently being built between NJ and NY will improve the NJ Transit train commute between North Plainfield, NJ and Manhattan, then I will buy a house there and settle my family. The town's problems will be solved. On the other hand, if this commute, currently horrid because of incessant delays, is not improved then our family will leave the state.

I have yet to meet a single educated family in this town who does not share this sentiment.

Here is a town that can go either way, becoming a more genuinely diverse Maplewood or a sorrier Trenton -- with the future governed solely by public policy affecting commuters.

Sep. 21 2009 10:36 AM

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