Quinn pitches massive overhaul of MTA

Speaker Christine Quinn delivered her transportation proposal in a speech at LaGuardia Community College on Thursday morning. Credit: William Alatriste.
Speaker Christine Quinn delivered her transportation proposal in a speech at LaGuardia Community College on Thursday morning. Credit: William Alatriste.

City Council Speaker and mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn announced a plan on Thursday for a massive overhaul of the transit system.

The plan largely calls for a greater leadership role by the city, as well as expanded ferry, Metro-North, and bus service—but not subway expansion.

“We would love to be able to expand subway service, but that’s complicated, expensive, and time-consuming,” Quinn told Metro, emphasizing the importance of concrete, realistic steps “if we are going to meet the goal that I’ve articulated of making sure that no New Yorker has a commute time of over an hour.”

Quinn aims to cut commute times to an hour or less within the next decade.

In justifying the call for city control of the MTA, Quinn pointed out that city residents and workers contribute the vast majority of MTA funding.

“We know that 90 percent of the funding that ends up going to the MTA comes from the tolls, fare, and taxes of folks that are using, one way or another, the subways and the buses in the five boroughs,” she explained. “That makes us the economic engine of the MTA.”

But, she said, the board of the MTA doesn’t reflect that.

“We’re the engine, but we’ve got the voice of a piston,” she declared.

The answer, Quinn said, is for the mayor to have the authority to appoint not only the head of the MTA, but the majority of the board as well. Equally important, she added, is giving riders a voting member on the board, not just a ceremonial member.

The other major problem she called out is the way the lives of New Yorkers have outgrown the century-old system: it is no longer the case that the majority of jobs are in the central business district, for example.

“When this system was built, the majority of New Yorkers lived in Manhattan,” she said. “Its main function was to get people to jobs in Manhattan. That’s not the reality anymore.”

Though subway expansion is too ambitious an undertaking to see progress in the next decade, Quinn proposed several ways to extend transit in the five boroughs, from expanding ferry service to creating more Metro-North stops in the Bronx and Manhattan.

 

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


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