Earlier this week Mayor Bloomberg’s campaign released a “Plan to Reform Mass Transit” consisting of 33 proposals to improve transit service, safety, and planning. As transportation advocates and journalists have pointed out, the plan contains no funding mechanisms and most proposals would require cooperation with the MTA, which the mayor has limited control over. Still, the proposals are intriguing, and include free crosstown buses in Manhattan, expansion of CityTicket (previously endorsed by mayoral candidate Bill Thompson and TSTC), reopening unused LIRR stations in Queens, and open-road tolling on all MTA crossings.
Michael Bloomberg's pledge to ride the subway to work if elected (which he hasn't always stuck to) was only one of many transportation promises he made during his 2001 campaign.
Will any of these campaign promises become reality if Bloomberg wins another term? There’s no way to tell, but as the incumbent the mayor does have a track record. Here’s a look at how Mayor Bloomberg has done when it comes to his 2001 transportation platform. (The mayor made few transportation-related promises during the 2005 campaign, which makes it all the more surprising that one of his major second-term initiatives was the environment and transportation-focused PlaNYC.) Words in italics are direct quotes or close paraphrases from the 2001 platform. Not every promise is listed.
Pedestrians and Cyclists
“Where pedestrians and vehicles are at a critical mass, have a four-way red light… countdown clocks should notify pedestrians and motorists how much time there is for crossing.” The city has used the four-way red (“Barnes dance”) as a traffic safety tool and has expanded use of countdown clocks.
“Slowdown speeders to protect pedestrians… stricter enforcement of the speed limit… ‘You are going XX mph’ signs on roads where speeding is common… cameras to catch speeders and save lives.” Speed cameras didn’t make it through the state legislature; speeding is rampant, according to Transportation Alternatives. But road redesigns have made Queens Blvd. and other dangerous roads safer.
Interestingly, candidate Bloomberg had nothing to say about cycling, and the 2001 platform had few pedestrian recommendations. Clearly, the hiring of NYCDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan in 2007 changed all of that. Arguably, the mayor’s biggest impact on New York City transportation has been the reclaiming of city street space for walkers and cyclists, including the pedestrianization of Times Square, rapid expansion of bike lanes, traffic calming throughout the city, and other aspects of PlaNYC.
“Use technology to boost compliance with traffic laws… use existing red-light cameras to keep bus lanes flowing… give traffic agents hand-held devices to record parking violations.” NYC is now authorized to use 150 red-light cameras, compared to 50 in 2001, and traffic agents now use digital hand-held devices instead of paper tickets. But bus lane enforcement is lacking.
“Introduce congestion pricing for parking meters.” NYCDOT’s “Park Smart” program charges higher meter rates at peak times in certain neighborhoods.
“Use crosswalk markings to stop parking where pedestrians are blocked and drivers’ vision of approaching cars is impaired.” This technique, also known as “daylighting,” has become part of NYCDOT’s traffic calming toolbox.
“Curb privileged parking.” In 2001, the city didn’t even know how many parking permits were given out to city employees. Under Bloomberg, the city found that there were over 140,000 permits — and then cut the number issued in half.
Other promises are more difficult to quantify. Has the city made good on a promise to “simplify street signage“? The New York Times would probably say no. And a recent Transportation Alternatives report makes it clear that NYC is far from “zero-tolerance of flouting traffic laws,” which candidate Bloomberg called for.
Click to read about Bloomberg’s transit promises and overall record…