We’d Be More Thankful If…


Photo: people.com

Before we succumb to the increasingly aggressive Christmas creep, we’d like to take a moment to honor another important holiday coming up. No, not National Cookie Day (but that’s coming up on December 4 — mark your calendar). We’re talking, of course, about Thanksgiving.

We’ve got a lot to be thankful for here at MTR, like New York City’s lower default speed limit, the passage of a vulnerable users bill in Connecticut, and New Jersey legislators pushing forward Port Authority transparency. And while some may be thankful for declining Thanksgiving gas prices, it’s worth noting that the number of travelers is skyrocketing.

Yes, there are plenty of reasons to be thankful, but we’d be a lot more thankful if:

Traffic deaths weren’t a requirement for getting safety improvements on our streets — “Let’s wait until someone is struck and killed before we make traffic safety improvements,” said no one ever. But unfortunately, that’s often what it takes to get local governments to fix unsafe street conditions.

New York and New Jersey’s elected officials had to commute via bus or train — We feel pretty confident that if the Port Authority Bus Terminal or Penn Station were part of the daily commute for our states’ leaders, the Gateway Project would be moving forward with real funding, the city’s bus terminals would receive more than a one percent funding priority in the Port Authority capital programand NJ Transit service would be more reliable.

Connecticut cities started acting like cities — Hartford is planning to add over 1,400 new parking spots in the Downtown North district, New Haven’s Route 34 West project looks like something you’d see in a suburban office park, and Stamford’s new Street Smart program doesn’t address the downtown area’s wide arterials that shun pedestrians and bicyclists.

New Jersey drivers were any good at math – We can’t help but add to the pile of disparaging things that have been said about New Jersey drivers. Increasing the state’s gas tax—the second lowest in the nation—by 25 cents per gallon would cost the average driver an additional $292 each year. Last we checked, that’s less than half of what the average NJ driver pays in extra repair costs due to poor roads.

Governor Cuomo would take the MTA’s capital program funding gap seriously — Governor Cuomo was quick to dismiss the enormous deficit the MTA is facing in its draft capital program as “bloated,” negating the history of an underfunded, and underappreciated, transit system.

New Jersey could stop dithering about transportation finance — Everybody knows New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund is running on empty. Now that the election is over and Governor Christie is back to eating nachos and ready to put New Jersey first, isn’t this the time to actually do something about it?

Connecticut had a seat at the MTA’s table — The New Haven Line is the single busiest commuter rail line in the nation, but there are exactly zero Nutmeggers on the MTA’s Board of Directors.

Everyone would just quit with the victim blaming when reporting traffic deaths — As the greater Vision Zero conversation advances, the media and NYPD are lagging woefully behind, continuing to publicize initial reporting of traffic casualties with a tendency toward victim blaming, and repeating preliminary NYPD reports as fact.

NJ Transit had a stable, dedicated revenue source — $1.6 billion has been transferred from the agency’s capital program to its operating budget since FY 2012. That’s enough to fully fund the extension of the HBLR, the replacement of the Portal Bridge, the implementation of the Glassboro-Camden Line, and nearly the entire cost of the first phase of the Gateway project.

The NYPD would tackle the dangerous driving epidemic instead of bicyclists — Kill a pedestrian with a motorized vehicle? The NYPD’s got your back. Run a red light on a bicycle? The NYPD will—quite literally—put you on your back.

Answering the Tappan Zee Bridge toll question tops Governor Cuomo’s 2015 “to-do” list — The election season has ended, yet there is still no word on what users will be expected to pay to cross the new bridge. While the New York State Thruway Authority has continually stated that system-wide toll hikes aren’t part of the plan, experts are now saying otherwise.

Work to convert the Sheridan Expressway into a boulevard would commence in 2015 — We’re still waiting for Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio to notice that the South Bronx’s Sheridan Expressway conversion to a boulevard checks off every priority box: economic development-check; housing-check; fewer traffic deaths-check; sustainable communities-check; improved environment-check.

Those aforementioned New Jersey drivers were required to give bicyclists a four-foot buffer — A safe passing bill is facing obstacles in the Senate Transportation Committee, where the bill has languished since June.

Congress realized that without transit America would be screwed — There’s a long list of ways Congress ignores transit, but one of the most egregious is having not restored the parity between the transit and parking benefits in 2014. We hoped last year that Congress would take action to restore parity to the commuter tax benefit, but no such luck. Thankfully tri-state area Senators Schumer and Blumental continue to fight for full, and permanent, restoration of the benefit.

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