One of the most requoted phrases from presidential campaign politics was James Carville’s pithy comment distributed to campaign workers for Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential run in an attempt to keep them focused and on message. The quote was, “The economy, stupid.” At the time, the United States was coming out of a recession, and jobs and prosperity were at the front of most Americans’ minds.
Fast forward to 2018. The world is smaller. We are bombarded daily with information, breaking news updates and political intrigue. We are also seeing our borough grow rapidly in some places, while being forgotten in others. Our attention bounces quickly from one thing to another, and we struggle to process all that is happening around us.
But there is one topic of interest to almost all residents of Queens that cuts through the noise and chaos and immediately resonates with the people: It’s transportation, stupid.
You don’t have to take our word for it; just read what commuters told us this week. They called the subway “unreliable,” they told us “there are always delays” and their primary tip to fellow commuters was “leave early.” One person even said that he is considering moving.
When transportation infrastructure crumbles, society crumbles around it. The Center for an Urban Future’s recent report suggested that the city is starting to see potential effects as tourists interviewed for the study said that long delays are making trips to New York less appealing.
If more isn’t done to stem this decline, you can be certain that these problems will continue to persist. Frustration will spread beyond western Queens and affect every neighborhood of the borough as the MTA and other agencies struggle to keep up with the increasing ridership that comes with a growing city. Most of us will probably become accustomed to it and accept these hardships over time, but we should not stay silent.
We should continue to demand better transportation infrastructure for our borough and be relentless in our efforts to keep our elected officials and public servants focused on the issue. At the Queens Tribune, we are pledging to do our part by dedicating more inches of our paper to the topic in months (and likely, years) to come.