On March 31, the COMMUTE (Communities United for Transportation Equity) coalition took out an advertisement in the New York Daily News in the form of an open letter asking New York’s elected officials to vote in favor of congestion pricing. MTR reprints the text of the letter in full below:
Dear New York City Council and New York State legislators,
We’re writing to wake you up before it’s too late.
We live in the neighborhoods of the working class in New York City. Our homes are in places like East Flatbush, the South Bronx, Sunset Park, Corona, and Jamaica. We depend on mass transit to get to work and to school, and to access essential services. But our transit service barely meets our needs.
Hundreds of thousands of us have to travel for more than two hours each day. Our trips are slow because many of us rely on buses that travel at an average speed of six miles an hour. Our fares are going up – but we’re not getting more service.
You now have the power to improve transportation in our neighborhoods. We need you to pass a congestion pricing plan now – and to mandate that money from congestion pricing go to support new mass transit in New York City neighborhoods that need it the most. Congestion pricing will allow us to implement a Bus Rapid Transit system that can fill in huge gaps in the subway system and make travel within the boroughs, and between them, faster. Our income, race or ethnicity should not prevent us from improving transportation in our neighborhoods.
There’s a big lie out there. It goes like this: “Congestion pricing is a tax on the working poor.” That is simply not true. Congestion pricing applies to the tiny number of New Yorkers who choose to drive into Manhattan’s central business district on weekdays. These drivers have incomes much higher than the city average.
Meanwhile, we don’t drive to work in Manhattan. We take the bus, and then another bus, or a train.
New York City must seize this opportunity. Do the right thing for those who have had to bear the burden of extreme commutes for too long. Support mass transit in our communities, by passing a congestion pricing plan that guarantees funds for new rapid transit service – for our neighborhoods and our future.
- Communities United for Transportation Equity/COMMUTE
- Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens
- Centro Hispano “Cuzcatlán”
- El Puente
- Families United for Racial and Economic Equality
- Erasmus Neighborhood Foundation
- Fifth Avenue Committee
- Nos Quedamos, Inc.
- The Point CDC/ACTION
- Sustainable South Bronx
- United Community Centers
- Washington Heights Club of the Working Families Party
- West Harlem/Morningside Heights Sanitation Coalition
- Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice