It’s not just for tourists. Real New Yorkers like car-free Times Square, according to a just-released Quinnipiac University poll. The survey of registered NYC voters found support for the new pedestrian spaces by a margin of 58%-34%, and 44% of New Yorkers have been to the car-free zones. (Tri-State visited back in May, and we enjoyed the spaces too.)
By a margin of 48%-46%, New Yorkers said the city should build more pedestrian malls, but most NYC voters do not want a pedestrian mall in their neighborhood. The Quinnipiac pollsters should also ask residents whether they want more pedestrian space in their neighborhoods, and whether they support taking that space from cars. In many neighborhoods, residents might not want to close an entire street, but would support the mini-plazas and traffic calming efforts that NYCDOT is rolling out throughout the city.
The poll also revealed how far the MTA has to go when it comes to its image. On one hand, most New Yorkers think their transit service is “good” or “excellent,” and 25% think it has gotten better in the last 5 years compared to 20% who think it has gotten worse (most think it has stayed the same). But they don’t think the agency will build the Second Avenue Subway or No. 7 extension on time, don’t think recent fare hikes were justified, and don’t think the MTA does a good job of telling its customers about service disruptions. Among those who think transit service has gotten worse over the last 5 years, most blame the agency instead of the State Legislature.
This widespread skepticism helps explain why the Q poll found opposition to East River bridge tolls, even among transit riders. If transit riders don’t believe the MTA spends its money effectively, they won’t have much enthusiasm for giving the agency the revenue it needs. One more reason that nominated MTA chair Jay Walder “must restore the public trust and confidence” in the agency, as he pledged to do at his introductory news conference.
Image: Clarence Eckerson via Streetsblog.