Thursday, June 19, 2008

Transit riders slapped in the face

(Image source: Machetera)

Well, I'm having my fifteen minutes of fame on the Streetsblog home page as the featured "Word on the street." Those words are: "All transit riders here have been collectively slapped in the face."

No, there hasn't been an outbreak of hand-to-face violence on New York City subway cars. Rather, our dysfunctional and corrupt state legislature has once again denied home rule to NYC on a local matter of vital importance: enforcement of car-free bus lanes.

Buses in NYC, beyond fighting traffic congestion like other automobiles, are slowed down even further by frequent stops and slow boarding: passengers can only enter through the front door and must pay for their ride on board. Starting in July, the city will begin an experiment with Bus Rapid Transit (on the Bx12 route), a system that attempts to provide the efficiences of a subway system above ground. Passengers pay at the stop before boarding and may enter and exit at all doors. Buses have dedicated lanes and priority rights-of-way at traffic signals.

A key way of ensuring cars and other vehicles don't use the bus lanes is through bus-mounted cameras that photograph the license plates of any vehicles improperly using the lane. Unfortunately, using these cameras requires approval of the NYS legislature, which on Tuesday killed the legislation in committee by a 14-11 vote, due to the opposition of state transportation committee chair David Gantt (Assembly, D-Rochester). Gantt's opposition was supposedly on civil liberties grounds, although he approved red-light camera enforcement in other counties in order to benefit a specific vendor. Gantt is a sadly typical example of the graft and corruption rampant in the NYS legislature. Here are my various comments about it on Streetsblog:

at 1:14 p.m.
I'm outraged.

Once again another livable streets initative for New York City has been stymied because of our corrupt and dysfunctional state legislature in Albany. I feel all transit riders here have been collectively slapped in the face.

New York City has been deprived of home rule on so many fronts, ranging from rent regulation to congestion pricing to bus lane enforcement. It's time for us to secede.

at 2:50 p.m.
Gantt is corrupt, corrupt, corrupt. Here's an another very recent example of his cronyism:

Bill moving driver-safety courses to Net draws fire

"A bill by Rochester Assemblyman David Gantt to move all driver-safety courses to the Internet is drawing fire from groups that run the courses, fearing that the move would increase the cost of the classes and could benefit a lobbyist close to Gantt.

"...the narrow language in the bill could...favor giving the Web-development contract to an Albany-area company, CMA Consulting Services Inc., whose lobbyist, Robert Scott Gaddy, is a former Gantt aide.

"The allegations are the second time in recent days that Gantt's close relationship with Gaddy has come under fire. Just last week, industry officials who want to install red-light cameras at intersections in Upstate New York complained that Gantt's bill on the issue is so narrowly worded that only CMA could get the work."

at 3:10 p.m.
Thank you, Mr. Gantt, for protecting my civil liberties! Oh, wait, you voted *against* legalizing same-sex marriage in New York State last year.

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