Last month, NYC Council Transportation Chairman Ydanis Rodriguez and the NYU Rudin Center hosted a transportation summit looking at existing challenges and possible legislative solutions. Titled “Next Stop: Making Transportation Safe and More Efficient,” Rodriguez detailed an ambitious plan to take 400,000 cars off the road by 2030.
As of 2012, 1.4 million New Yorkers were car owners, and that number is still growing. Rodriguez cautions that single occupancy vehicles can negatively affect both individuals and the city itself. However, many residents of the outer boroughs rely on their private vehicles due to a lack of alternatives.
To take cars off the road, Rodriguez offers a number of sweeping reforms to the transportation system. We outlined a handful of them below.
1. Incentivizing alternative transit
For New Yorkers to give up their cars, city officials will have to make options like carpooling and biking more attractive. Rodriguez set a goal of doubling New York’s current 1,000 miles of bike lanes by 2030 and expanding access points like subway stations and ferry stops. He also hopes to expand the pilot program of allowing bicycles on the front of MTA buses and perhaps even trains in the future.
2. Improving the subway, bus and rail systems
Rodriguez hopes to introduce fully-equipped Bus Rapid Transit routes, which reach all the way to eastern Queens and southeast Brooklyn. He’s also planning to address trip pricing by simplifying the agencies involved. Rodriguez envisions merging the LIRR, Metro North, New Jersey Transit and PATH to create a unified rail system, making it easier for passengers to move into the New York City area. “If we allow riders living within the city limits to take a train from Jamaica to Penn Station for a price comparable to a MetroCard fare, we lower overcrowding on 7 trains while moving people through our city faster,” he explained.
3. Going car-free on Earth Day
Rodriguez is aiming for a public awareness campaign on Earth Day 2016. He plans to work with city officials to encourage people to leave their cars at home and remove unnecessarily parked cars. “I can only imagine the impact this will have on freeing up our streets, allowing all New Yorkers to see the benefits of fewer cars,” Rodriguez said.
4. Passing Move NY
Move NY is a grassroots campaign that has gathered tremendous support for its NYC transportation masterplan. The campaign offers a number of toll reforms including time of day pricing, waiving tolls for yellow/green cabs, and regulating livery vehicles as private vehicles. It would also implement 100 percent electronic toll collection, per-axle tolls on commercial vehicles and base toll rates on station demand. “There is no longer a question of should we pass this plan, but when,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez sees city congestion as more than just a nuisance — to him, it’s a public danger. In 2014, the city implemented a significant Vision Zero change, reducing the speed limit to 25 miles per hour. Since then, there has been a 26 percent reduction in pedestrian fatalities, making the number the lowest it’s been since record-keeping began.
“These are the innovative ideas our city needs to be grabbing hold of to both fund the MTA, and bring our transit system into the modern era,” Rodriguez concluded.