Carroll says MTA fix-up requires ‘uncomfortable choices’
Assembly member calls for city to scrap BQX plan
If state officials are going to make MTA run the city’s buses and subways more efficiently, it will require lawmakers to make “uncomfortable choices,” according to Assemblymember Robert Carroll.
“New Yorkers are uncomfortable on their commutes, crammed into trains and sitting for long periods in decrepit stations on hot platforms. And we, as leaders, must make some uncomfortable choices about how to improve their lives. We have been forced to accept that a bad commute is simply part of living in New York City. That does not have to be the case. The MTA’s Capital Budget is underfunded. We have to find places to add money for newer trains, modern stations, and efficient equipment. The money is there. And I know where to look,” Carroll said in a statement.
Carroll (D-Park Slope-Kensington), a lifelong straphanger who does not own a car, recently unveiled a six-step plan aimed at identifying potential funding sources for MTA to put toward capital improvements.
Among his suggestions are to scrap plans for the city’s Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX) street car system. The BQX’s proposed route would run from Sunset Park through Gowanus, Red Hook, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, Vinegar Hill, the Navy Yard, Williamsburg and Greenpoint before entering Queens to travel through Long Island City and Astoria.
“The BQX is a creative idea, but it’s a $2.5 billion dollar diversion from the real transit crisis in this city. All current and future funds dedicated to the BQX should be redirected to the MTA Capital budget,” Carroll said.
Carroll also wants Gov. Andrew Cuomo to call the state Legislature into special session to allow lawmakers to come up with a congestion pricing plan for New York City.
“We need to fund the MTA without crushing outer borough drivers who have little choice but to drive to Manhattan. I propose lowering outer borough bridge tolls on bridges such as the Verrazano, Whitestone, and Throgs Neck. We can make up the revenue by tolling the East River bridges. And I want tolling discounts for commuters who live in transportation deserts, who have few MTA options,” Carroll said.
Carroll wants to state to float bonds to generate revenue for MTA. “The Legislature should pass and the voters of the state of New York should approve a general obligation bond to be floated by the state of New York for $4.5 billion dollars so that the state can infuse the MTA Capital Budget with much needed funds to modernize signals and switches and purchase modern open gangway subway cars,” he said.
Other suggestions from Carroll include an increase the surcharge for taxi rides from 50 cents to $1 per ride, divert a certain percentage of state income tax dollars to the agency and form a task force to look into how MTA spends its money.
“The governor must form a task force to find out why it costs so much to operate. And root out waste and inefficiencies,” Carroll said.
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