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Quinn lays out her vision for public transportation

Council Speaker Christine Quinn called the New York City transit system obsolete.
TimesLedger Newspapers

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), Democratic front-runner for mayor, said Thursday no commuter should have to spend more than one hour getting to work and her administration would work to that end.

Quinn spoke at Fiorello H. LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City.

She told of a woman she called Judy of Far Rockaway. who commutes to her job at the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center.

“It takes her almost two hours on the subway to make the 21-mile trip,” Quinn said. “To put that in perspective, it takes the same amount of time to travel the 90 miles from Poughkeepsie to Grand Central Terminal on Metro-North.”

Quinn said the problem for commuters is that the New York City transit system is obsolete.

”Next October our transportation system will be 110 miles old,” Quinn said “when the subway started running in 1904, there were about four million people in New York City and over half of them lived in Manhattan.”

“Fewer than 200,000 lived in Queens.”

She said that in the 1950s nearly 70 percent of the private sector jobs in New York City were located in Manhattan and the subways helped move people accordingly. Fast forward to today. Manhattan accounts for less than one fifth of the total population of the city, nearly 2.3 million live in Queens and close to 2.6 million in Brooklyn. She said in the past 20 years Manhattan had suffered a net loss of jobs, while all other boroughs had gained jobs.

“But the system still runs as though the majority of New Yorkers still live and work in Manhattan,” she said.,

Quinn said New York City should take over the Metropolitan Transportation Authority with the mayor in charge. One of her potential opponents is Joseph Lhota, former chairman of the MTA, who resigned to enter the mayoral race on the Republican line.

She proposed adding a voting representative of the riding public to the MTA board “to give riders real, meaningful input on their transit system.”

In the coming four years, she would also establish 10 new Select Bus Service (buses with pre-boarding ticketing and lanes forbidden to other vehicles) routes in Staten, Island, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. Such bus lines cost around $1 million per mile rather the $1 billion per mile which subways cost.

She would also use public transportation to fuel new development and extend Metro-North and ferry service in the city.

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