The New York Times on Tuesday discovered what most of us who ride the city’s subways and busses have known for years: A ride during rush hour is torture.
There’s no room. No room on the platforms for more people. Platforms too short for longer trains. No more capacity to add more trains. Busses that pack people in like sardines (and send them flying like loose cargo if they don’t hang on tight enough during start-stop rides through Manhattan traffic.)
To quote the Times:
“From my point of view, this is scary,” said Howard H. Roberts Jr., the president of New York City Transit, who presented the data to members of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s board. “This is scary in the sense that right now, on a lot of these lines, we’re several years and a big capital construction project away from being able to provide what I consider adequate service. We’re constrained.”
Mr. Roberts said the data had particular significance in light of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s proposal for a congestion pricing system that would charge most drivers who enter Manhattan below 86th Street — with the intent of moving people out of their cars and onto mass transit.
Not only can’t Manhattan handle a significant increase in transit passengers, neither can New Jersey, where Governor John Corzine is said to be stewing at what Michael Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan would to do New Jersey Transit, already stretched to overcapacity.
So why is Michael Bloomberg pushing so hard for congestion pricing? One suspects it’s because he doesn’t give a damn for the consequences. He’s hellbent for doing something-or-other in the coming Presidential election, with pundits debating whether he’ll actually run, thus acting as a spoiler the way Ralph Nader did when he paved the way for the George Bush presidency. Or whether Bloomberg is simply trying to play “kingmaker” and decide who else will run, on what platform, in what party – specifics yet to be announced.
What a filthy misuse of his $5 billion fortune! In fact, what an argument for a 90% tax bracket on incomes over several millions of dollars a year and accumulated fortunes over $50 million, to make certain nobody can accumulate enough money to ruin an election that’s a life and death matter for Americans in uniform overseas, of retirement age at home, and in need of medical care anywhere in the nation.
Michael Bloomberg has rushed into congestion pricing the way George Bush rushed us into Iraq – without a timetable, without a damage assessment (or environmental inpact statement in New York's case)without a significant contingency plan other than “we’ll see if it works,” without a measurable standard for success, without regard to the millions of lives it will affect, without regard to the damage it will do to the economy of New York when the straw of ridership breaks the camel’s back and not only the new riders, but all riders, no longer can get to work on time.
If he really and truly wants to reduce traffic in New York, Michael Bloomberg has to start with a massive injection of money neither the city nor the state has to add subway lines, rebuild subway lines, lengthen platforms, put on more trains – and then, only then, start pricing ordinary drivers off the streets. He also ought to limit truck double parking and the way construction sites bleed over into the streets and eat up lane space. That could do a lot more to stop congestion that slamming some lowly commuters from Lyndenhurst with an $8 a day fee.
He could also do a few small things, such as encouraging cycling as an alternative means of transportation. (His plans mention walking, but never bicycles. No, he prefers to arrest cyclists on trumped up charges. Come to think of it, he’s been arresting young black mourners for walking together to a funeral, too.) http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=03/04/07/0228246
Right now, all Mayor Bloomberg is doing is turning the streets into speedways for his limo-riding friends, for whom an $8 charge is like eight cents to you and me. And if he has to add lots more of those big, space-eating, slow-moving busses to make up for the lack of subway capacity, he may actually add to the congestion.
Hey, what does Michael care? He’s making a “legacy” for himself. Or maybe a king. Or maybe a spoiled election. Whatev-urrrr.
Some of his supporters will rush to tell you he rides the subway himself.
Yeah? How often? And at what time of day? I get on at Lexington and 77th Street, same place as Bloomberg would get on if he takes the subway to City Hall from the station closest to his multi-million dollar private mansion. Funny, I never seen him on the platform. Not ever.
Hey fellow Lexington Avenue Line riders, how often have YOU seen Bloomberg on the subway? (I used to see the late former Mayor Abe Beame on the subway about once every month. He also boarded at Lexington and 77th and he was indeed a regular mass transit rider. Moreover, he was even shorter than Michael Bloomberg, which is saying something. So it’s not hard to believe that if Bloomberg rides the subway to work at rush hour, people would spot him there.) But finding Bloomberg on the subway at rush hour is about as likely as running into the tooth fairy.
Michael Bloomberg’s “legacy” will be stalled New Yorkers, a stalled economy as businesses flee the city so their workers can get to the office on time, frayed tempers, a worsening of quality of life here, and if the terrorists ever attack the subways, a higher body count.
Listen pal, if you get killed on the subway because of Mike Bloomberg, don’t run and tell me I didn’t warn you.