We commend the MTA and Gov. Cuomo for helping bring our transportation system into the 21st Century with new trains and overhauled stations. But our transit problems go way beyond the need for more standing room or charging stations. This is all well and good for those who live in Astoria, Forest Hills, Flushing or Jamaica, but it doesn’t solve the problem of lack of transportation access for parts of the borough beyond the reach of the subway.
What we need are solutions for those in neighborhoods such as Whitestone, Cambria Heights and Maspeth, who have to take buses or drive to subways or LIRR stops to get to their jobs. These solutions could include a proposal, led by Councilman I. Daneek Miller, to make the fares of the LIRR and Metro North within the five boroughs the same as the subway, providing cost-effective service for Eastern Queens neighborhoods served by the commuter rail.
New and innovative transportation options should also be considered, and that includes the proposal by Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley to construct a light rail along the old LIRR Long Island City line from LIC to Jamaica, and the reactivation of the Rockaway Beach LIRR line. Ferry service, which kicks off citywide next year, should be considered for neighborhoods such as College Point and Bayside, as well as the Eastern Rockaway Peninsula.
Expansion of the subway system itself should not be off the table. In the past decade we’ve done just that, but only in Manhattan. Mayor Bill de Blasio has expressed interest in building a subway line under Utica Avenue in Brooklyn. Extending the subways east of Flushing and Jamaica, or building new lines, such as the Triboro X through Central Queens should be discussed.
While we laud the upgrades coming to our subways and buses, let us not lose sight of the fact that we are a growing city without a growing transportation system. We are a global capital and we need a public transit system that speaks to that.