New York's transportation system is the foundation of our city, and that system must be accessible, affordable, efficient, and reliable. As a City Council Member, Tricia will work to establish a multi-modal transportation network that prioritizes safety on our streets, sidewalks, buses and subway lines, and that moves our City towards a more environmentally sustainable future. Below is a brief outline of her legislative priorities to support affordable, safe, and efficient transit policies:
In order to ease congestion and reduce harmful emissions, New York needs a multimodal public transportation network that reduces private car usage and creates a comprehensive network of mass transit options. Tricia will fight for a unified and diverse transportation system consisting of local and express buses, reliable subway service, and an expanded ferry network. In order to increase revenue, New York must rebuild its rider base, resolve transit deserts, and integrate the entire public transit system into a navigable and affordable network.
Moving our Bus System Forward
Our bus system is a critical component of our public transit system, and some of the most heavily-depended on lines are right here in our district. In 2019, the M15 local/SBS was the busiest bus route in New York City. However, ongoing congestion and subsequent long ridership times will threaten the overall survival of this vital service unless the City takes action. We must prioritize increasing the speed, reliability, and overall experience of our bus system. The City must commit to expanding bus lanes, increasing use of bus lane cameras, adding transit signal priority technology to intersections throughout the City, and creating sidewalk improvements that expedite boarding and alighting from buses. The 96th Street Select Bus Service (SBS) was originally included in plans to improve our bus system, has yet to be implemented. Tricia will fight for enacting SBS service on 96th Street, as well as overall improvements including all-door boarding for buses, increased access to USB ports, and additional real-time information availability both on-board and at bus stops.
Additionally, in order to build a transportation system that works for everyone, we must approach transportation improvements through the lens of disability justice. Tricia will work to accelerate pilot programs that increase bus accessibility for riders with visual impairments across New York City. The MTA and the Transit Innovation Partnership launched the NaviLens app in 2020 to allow blind and low-vision bus riders to use their smartphones to find bus stops and learn of arrival times. This pilot is in place along the M23 SBS bus route, and Tricia will push for the expansion of this program to the District 5 bus routes. She will also advocate for the implementation of other Transit Innovation Partnership projects in the district.
Finally, New York City must fulfill its promise to reduce emissions by investing in the electrification of city transit. Taking these steps will also allow New York to better transition to renewable energy and strengthen the electric grid. Tricia will fight for the full funding of the 2020-2024 Capital Plan to transition to zero-emissions electric buses. The City must provide the $1.1 billion it promised to invest in purchasing 500 electric buses and modifying depots for electric bus operations.
Fighting for our Subways
As Deputy Chief of Staff for Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s office, Tricia worked closely with government and community stakeholders to complete Phase 1 of the Second Ave subway. As a City Council Member, Tricia will remain deeply committed to ensuring that the city continues to complete Phase 2 of construction into East Harlem. Funding from the federal and state government are crucial in this, and Tricia will be a strong City partner in building a coalition to support this vital infrastructure. In addition, Tricia will continue to fight for increased funds allocated to accessibility improvements throughout the subway system, particularly on the 4/5/6 line. The 86th Street/Lexington Avenue subway stop must be fully accessible, instead of a partial attempt that fails to allow riders with disabilities access to this stop.
Our public transportation system does not run without our transit workers. Far too many transit workers have suffered greatly and even died from exposure to COVID-19 in their jobs. Tricia will continue to fight for the safety and fair wages for these workers, allocating additional PPE and ensuring workplace protections to keep everyone safe and healthy.
Integrating Ferries into our Transportation Network
Ferry service provides essential transportation services for communities that are too often far removed from other transit alternatives. It’s reliable, efficient, and can provide a high quality rider experience that directly connects users with our waterfronts. However, this system is currently not integrated into our broader transportation network, despite being rolled out as a commuter service for New Yorkers. Tricia has long advocated for a universal payment system that allows the seamless transfer from the ferry to a bus or subway. A universal payment system could also provide the same discounted tickets available through the Fair Fare program and other programs for seniors and disabled New Yorkers.
Tricia will also advocate for design improvements to improve accessibility and safety of ferry stops. Improving the NYC Ferry app and trip planning features would also increase ridership and expand access to the ferry for more New Yorkers.
Creating a Comprehensive Bike Lane Network
A strategically-planned network of bike lanes is a necessary piece of a multimodal transportation network. Bike lanes help street users anticipate where traffic will flow and can help keep traffic moving. Tricia will support the expansion of bike lanes throughout New York City, with robust community input along the way. Wherever possible, the city should implement protected bike lanes to ensure the safety of the city's riders. Tricia is also in support of redesigning the transverse traffic lanes through Central Park. Currently, the transverse streets and sidewalks offer little to no safety for pedestrians, bikers, or cars, as the roadways broken and frequently floods, and sidewalks are narrow, broken, and poorly lit.
Our bike lanes are only as good as they are clear. We must also invest in appropriate snow removal plows that can efficiently clear bike lanes and pedestrian medians so that we are not making more dangerous conditions for pedestrians and bikers alike.
Nearly 1.6 million New Yorkers are bike riders, and the number has only increased during the pandemic. The lack of bike parking must be addressed in order to support this green form of transportation. Tricia will call for increased bicycle storage, planned in coordination with a bike-lane network to ensure broad access.
Only 23% of subway stations in New York City are fully ADA accessible. Roosevelt Island residents perpetually suffer from broken elevators at the RIOC tram. Access-A-Ride users are forced to endure long wait times that make doctors visits, class schedules, and other necessary appointments nearly impossible to achieve. It is abundantly clear that we have failed to provide reliable and dignified transit options for disabled New Yorkers. We must prioritize transit improvements through a disability justice lens, which starts with fighting for full accessibility on every subway, bus, and ferry stop and rethinking our street use to better serve those living with a disability.
In 2020, only 44% of Access-a-Ride (AAR) trips were provided in accessible vehicles. We need a multilayered, comprehensive approach to improve the AAR service. To start, we must increase the number of AAR vehicles to better match demand, particularly during peak travel hours. Tricia will hold AAR leadership accountable by creating more transparent processes to issue and address complaints and reduce overall wait times for rides. Tricia will also fight to strengthen the Paratransit Advisory Committee to ensure that AAR is observing fair practices and providing quality services.
In order to increase ridership, New York's public transportation system must make payment easy and convenient. Tricia has long advocated for a universal payment system for all ferry, bus, and subway ridership, with discounts for seniors, students, low income New Yorkers, and individuals living with disabilities. Tricia will oppose fare hikes and will advocate to eliminate transfer fees, which punish those living in transit deserts who need to transfer multiple times per trip.
Additionally, fare increases have outpaced inflation, hurting low-income riders the most - more than one quarter of poor, working age New Yorkers reported they were often unable to afford subway and bus fares between 2007 and 2015. The Fair Fares Program is a good way to support these vulnerable New Yorkers, but we must expand this program now. Increasing the maximum income level requirements for Fair Fares would include more fare-burdened riders in the program. As the city pushes toward recovery from the pandemic, the program must be adequately funded so all eligible riders can benefit. Tricia will push to use the same formula as the one used for determining reduced and free school lunches, providing a free MetroCard to those who qualify for free lunch.
The pandemic has provided an opportunity to revisit our understanding of street and sidewalk use. The role of outdoor dining, open streets, and the importance of open space should all be taken into consideration as we decide the future of our street use.
The Open Streets Initiative has been extremely successful, providing more space for New Yorkers to safely use our streets while not in a vehicle. Tricia is supportive of making the Open Streets initiative a permanent program and expanding where possible throughout the City.
In order to take care of our streets, we must also contend with the rise of delivery bike services throughout New York City, while also recognizing the struggles of food delivery workers. The vast majority of restaurants in our neighborhood are not responsible for the bike delivery services - third party companies are, and they encounter little oversight regarding their treatment of delivery riders. This allows for low wages, reckless riding and unsafe streets for everyone. Tricia will hold delivery companies accountable to enact best safety practices and increase support for these essential workers.
Congestion on our streets is often caused by double-parked and idling delivery vans - for these third-party delivery services, tickets are the cost of doing business, giving them no incentive to improve driving behavior. Blocking bus and bike lanes is especially damaging to the flow of traffic. Tricia will fight for new solutions to these problems, including incentivizing overnight delivery, coordinating deliveries, and piloting new delivery services to reduce congestion.
Our community needs stronger enforcement of transportation rules and commonsense parking solutions that ultimately encourage public transportation use.
Placard abuse has created a large-scale safety and corruption problem. Abuse includes using fraudulent placards, using placards outside of business hours, selling placards to "friends," and parking on sidewalks and in bus and bike lanes. Yet these placards are still distributed, with the official city count at over 140,000. Tricia will fight to eliminate placard abuse through a complete overhaul of the placard system with a more streamlined system that can be better enforced and managed to those who need it most.
In order to create policies that will ameliorate congestion and traffic, we need to collect accurate data about the streets in District 5. As a member of the City Council, Tricia will support a district parking study to evaluate where drivers are coming from, when the streets are most crowded, and what obstacles are creating the worst traffic jams. The establishment of a pilot resident parking permit program, with substantial community engagement to determine where permitted spots are most needed, should also be established.
Additionally, Tricia supports the creation of low-emission vehicle spots with charging stations to facilitate environmentally-friendly driving. She will work to build public-private partnerships with electric vehicle companies to increase charging station availability. Tricia will work to create subsidies for commercial and residential buildings with existing parking structures to develop electric vehicle charging stations.
Tricia strongly supports empowering all workers with the right to unionize, holding corporations accountable, and providing good wages and benefits. She will call for state legislators to pass legislation to give rideshare drivers the right to collective and sectoral bargaining for better work conditions.
Additionally, Tricia believes that we must increase the taxi improvement fund to help struggling taxi drivers pay for necessary accessibility upgrades. Tricia will hold ride-share companies such as Uber and Lyft accountable to either independently fund a fleet of vehicles that are at least 50% accessible for people with disabilities, or provide direct compensation towards the creation of a centralized city fleet of accessible vehicles. Tricia would help make FHV licensing contingent upon a private entity’s compliance with existing laws and regulations.
Between 2002 and 2014, the price of a taxi medallion rose to from $200,000 to more than $1 million, while driver incomes remained the same. More than 950 taxi medallion owners filed for bankruptcy as of 2019 because of predatory loan practices. Immigrant New Yorkers are bearing the brunt of this crisis, managing both financial and mental health challenges. The city must support these workers by enacting a plan for debt forgiveness as proposed by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. Tricia supports the union's call for lenders to restructure and refinance medallion debt. The New York City government must offer drivers additional support by playing a "backstop" role for restructured loans and returning foreclosed medallions in storage to the original owners.