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  1. Philip McManus

    Mayor’s Proposed Streetcars Might Hurt Streets and Cars

    New York City mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans for a streetcar line that would connect Brooklyn and Queens, running along the East River. The proposal is causing some trepidation even among transit advocates.

    “The $2.5 billion, 12 mile per hour streetcar recently proposed by the mayor is a major concern for commuters who drive,” said Philip McManus, president of a grassroots group called the Queens Public Transit Committee (QPTC). “This streetcar idea reminds us of the proposed Select Bus Service for Woodhaven Boulevard. Combined, both plans stand to cost the public almost $3 billion yet may leave our roads in worse condition than they are now,” continued McManus.

    Mike Scala, Vice President of QPTC, stated, “We favor more transit options. We want to learn more about this plan. Will we lose lanes of traffic, consequently causing more congestion? Is it worthwhile to make this investment now when projects like QueensRail, serving areas that more urgently need transportation improvements, remain unfunded?”

    The QueensRail idea advocated by the committee involves utilizing the existing right of way of the former Rockaway Beach branch of the Long Island Rail Road, as opposed to spending more money to build new infrastructure from scratch.

    Allan Rosen, QPTC member and former Director of Bus Planning for MTA New York City Transit, offered, “If the mayor really wants to help improve transportation in New York City without breaking the bank, we have some common sense suggestions for him: 1. We need a state law requiring cars to give the right of way to buses leaving a bus stop, which would save more time than Select Bus Service since it would apply to all routes. 2. Rebuild railway or busway transportation on existing rights of way that will not negatively affect our already clogged roads. QueensRail will connect commuters with the rest of the borough and is a textbook example of a public asset that is going to waste because of political pressure by special interests. 3. Better use of BusTime technology to improve on-time performance and less reliance on ‘Next Bus Please,’ which is overused. 4. Consideration of true demand in determining bus frequencies. That would include those using vans and car services because buses are too crowded or inconvenient.”

    QPTC Webmaster Eugene Falik noted, “The Queens Public Transit Committee is in favor of anything that improves transportation for Queens and the region but we feel that there is not enough information available to evaluate the mayor’s proposal for a Brooklyn-Queens streetcar along the East River waterfront at this time.” He added, “We believe it might be more appropriate to experiment with an inexpensive — compared to the $2.5 billion streetcar — bus along the proposed route before building fixed rail tracks into the pavement. Based on the available information, we believe that $2.5 billion could be better spent on the QueensRail implementation, which would only cost between $500 and 700 million, and investigating the Triboro RX connecting Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx via existing, inactive rail tracks and the NY Connecting Railroad.”

    “If we do not put more pressure on our local elected representatives we will continue to see our transportation costs rise along with our commuting time,” concluded McManus.

    Those who want to help improve transportation options for their families are encouraged to visit

    Philip McManus

    Queens Public Transit Committee
    Faster and safer transportation will create more social, economic, recreational, and environmental opportunities.

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