Sunday, May 16, 2021

Public transport is threatened, and cities too

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In the new York City in February 2020, a missed subway train was mostly a nuisance. There was a chance that another would arrive a few minutes later. In February 2022, the sight of a subway train pulling away as you reach the platform may seem more existential. The next? Fifteen or 20 minutes on the road, enough time wasted that shift workers were late checking in and office jockeys late enough to get the guy’s attention in the corner office.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York is the agency that manages the city’s subway system, as well as the area’s buses and commuter trains. It serves four out of 10 of the country’s public transport users. Today, amid a pandemic, recession and record drop in ridership, MTA executives say the agency needs an additional $ 12 billion for 2021 – if not all s ‘will collapse. Really: The MTA may have to cut service by 40-50% and lay off more than 9,000 workers, the people who kept the system running amid the pandemic despite a decrease of about 70% among daily riders. This will likely delay capital projects indefinitely, like a planned subway expansion in a transit-neglected part of Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood; some will be canceled.

“The MTA faces a fiscal tsunami that will only happen once every hundred years,” said Pat Foye, CEO of MTA. told a public radio show last week, noting that neither Hurricane Sandy, September 11, nor even the Great Depression posed such a threat to transit service.

If you don’t use public transport, that might not seem too bad. But cities are networks. Cascading effects. Too many days late for work and your job is no longer yours. Too many long journeys and you realize that it is no longer possible to move downtown or to take on one of the high paying jobs there. If public transit is meant to be a used vehicle (no pun intended) then a broken system only leads to a broken city, where some people are lucky, and many others are not. After public transport in New York – after public transport anywhere – may not look pretty.

The Subpar transit service “eats away at people’s time in a way that affects happiness and health and the time they can spend with their families,” says Ben Fried, director of communications for the research and development group. TransitCenter defense.

New York is unique. The region is more dependent on public transit than anywhere else in the country, and more of its residents are jumping on the metro. Yet the scene is repeating itself across the country, in places where public transit is more likely to provide a safety net for those who cannot afford a car or, for reasons of age. or handicap, cannot drive. The San Francisco Bay Area BART system faces a $ 200 million shortfall next summer; he is working to persuade the agency’s retired workers to step down in order to avoid layoffs. DC area metro system says so won’t have enough in the bank to keep trains running on weekday evenings after 9 p.m. – or on weekends. Denver has already done $ 140 million in cuts.

A $ 908 billion stimulus bill under consideration by Congress would send $ 15 billion to the country’s transit systems. The American Public Transportation Association, the industry lobby group, says the systems need at least $ 32 billion to get through the next fiscal year. This is in addition to last spring’s CARES law, which injected $ 25 billion into public transit – money that many officials say is already depleted.

Published research in October, NYU’s Rudin Center of Transportation suggested that MTA’s proposed cuts could lead to the loss of 450,000 jobs and $ 50 billion in revenue in the region, lowering the region’s GDP by $ 65 billion . This includes the effects of the agency’s 9,000 potential layoffs and the jobs that remain vacant if the agency does not hire suppliers and contractors for capital projects. This also includes the jobs that disappear if, frustrated with less frequent and congested buses and trains, people stop commuting to business districts like Manhattan for work, including 38,600 food preparation jobs and 66,200 clerical and administrative support jobs. The misery of regional transit, suggests the document, is generally increasing.

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