Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Improved mass transit

With all the buzz about congestion pricing as a solution to Manhattan's traffic woes, I've been thinking about ways to improve getting folks around in this city and the quality of life for those who make this island their home or place of work. Ultimately, to get more cars off the road, we need to do more than just charge drivers more money to negotiate our streets. When prices for everyday commodities rise suddenly and dramatically, many may grumble or protest at first, but they go ahead and pay the higher price and soon mentally adjust to the situation as "normal." For example, have significant price increases at the gas pump really reduced the number of drivers on the road in any meaningful way?

To get people out of their cars, we need to make mass transit not just a viable but desirable alternative to driving.

Now, I admit, living in New York, I'm spoiled. I gave up my car when I moved here and have never looked back. I can get anywhere I need to go within the city 24 hours a day using subways, buses, my own two feet, and, if I'm really desperate, a cab.

And yet...

How many of you living in Inwood and the Heights have encountered the following situations?
  • You cut short your fun evening out downtown or in Brooklyn because it's 10:25 and the A is about to turn into a pumpkin and you don't want to spend 75 minutes getting home when you have to get up at the ass crack of dawn to get to work the next day.

  • You discover that yet again, for the 20th weekend in a row, the A is going to be running local (which seemed to be the case for almost all of 2007). Oh, and just to slow you down even further, the MTA is running a "special" shuttle between 207th and 168th streets. You'd better bring a good book or some rocking tunes for that 90-minute commute to the East Village.

  • It's 2:20 a.m. and you're ready to slit your wrists at 50th St. because it's taken the A 40 minutes to show up (despite the MTA's claim that they run every 20 minutes late nights).

  • You're in the 'Wood and you need to get to the East Side... don't get me started.

Is it any wonder why some people persist in driving their cars around this island?

So in the next few entries, I'm going to put out some ideas for improving our mass transit and quality of life on Mannahatta. I'm just getting started with this blog, and I may not be able to post all that frequently, so be patient, okay?

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