FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM MARCH 21, 2019 • THE QUEENS COURIER 33
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Queens in need of
BY JESSICA RAMOS AND KATHRYN WYLDE
New York City has added 1.3 million people and over
a million jobs since 1990. Queens alone has gained over
400,000 residents and almost 200,000 jobs during the
same period. But our transportation infrastructure is
about the same as it was in the 1980s.
Th e New York State Legislature has about two weeks
to approve a smart plan for modernizing our region’s
bus, subway and commuter rail services. Most New
Yorkers recognize the desperate need for more reliable
and accessible transit services, so reform of the MTA
and funding for necessary improvements should be a
no-brainer, but that is not necessarily the case in Albany.
Many legislators are hung up on the plan’s primary
source of funding: congestion pricing.
Th is is a toll on private cars and trucks that enter the
Manhattan central business district south of 60th Street.
Other world cities like London, Stockholm and
Singapore have reduced traffi c gridlock and increased
funding for public transit with congestion pricing and
are happy with the results. Th e proposal for Manhattan
would involve a toll that varies based on traffi c conditions,
so it would be highest during rush hour and less
on weekends, nights and holidays.
Only a fraction (8 percent) of Queens residents who
regularly commute into Manhattan do so by private car,
compared to 90 percent of residents who use public transit.
Th ose who drive do so largely because subway and
bus alternatives are uncomfortable, inconvenient and
unreliable. Th at is what must change!
Queens is the borough that suff ers the most delay and
lost productivity because of excess traffi c, much of it generated
by trucks and cars of nonresidents that cross the
borough in order to get to and from Manhattan and the
airports. Congestion pricing in Manhattan will ultimately
reduce the vehicles driving through. It will enable local
ambulances and other emergency vehicles to move faster
and cut down on pollution that causes high rates of asthma
in many Queens neighborhoods.
Instead of objecting to congestion pricing, the
Legislature must demand transit investments that will
make it easy to choose a fast-moving and timely bus or
train rather than driving into Manhattan, where parking
charges are routinely as much as $50 a day. Th ey should
eliminate the dashboard placards that allow government
workers to park their private cars illegally and at
no charge. (Government is the industry with the highest
number of workers driving private cars into Manhattan.)
Th e cost of upgrading transit services is high: more
than $40 billion over the next fi ve years for the capital
improvements and many billions more to run the
system. Transit riders pay for about half the operating
costs through the fare box. Businesses and other taxpayers
contribute more than $5 billion a year in tax subsidies.
But many of the vehicle owners who benefi t from a
thriving city economy (and create the traffi c congestion
that costs the region more than $20 billion a year in delay
and lost productivity) are not paying their fair share.
Transit services have deteriorated to a point where
customers are leaving the system. Th e result is a crisis
that threatens the continued vitality of every community.
It demands immediate action by the state Legislature
through the adoption of congestion pricing as part of the
state budget. It also requires a better planning process
for transit services – one that refl ects local priorities and
changing commuter patterns.
Only with these actions will New Yorkers get the
transportation system that our city deserves.
Jessica Ramos is state Senator for the 13th Senatorial
District in western Queens; Kathryn Wylde is president
and CEO of the Partnership for New York City.
A 21-year-old man was shot and
wounded on the platform of the
75th Avenue subway station at
Queens Boulevard on March 15.
Th is incident sparks concerns over
safety on our subways and raises
the question: Why is the station
It is, to my knowledge, the only
local Queens stop on the E and F
lines, forcing trains to make
detours en route to Manhattan
and Jamaica. Express stops exist
within 6 blocks of this station either
way at the Union Turnpike and
71st Avenue stations. Riders unable
or unwilling to walk the short distance
can take the Q60 bus at no
Closing the station will save the
MTA money, while boosting service
Richard Reif, Kew Gardens Hills
Th e developing college admissions
scandal has revealed that a
few wealthy parents have illegally
paid bribes to various offi cials to
falsify their children’s test scores or
their academic or athletic achievements
to improve their chances of
being admitted to elite colleges.
In addition, many elite colleges
give preferential treatment in
admissions to children of alumni
and to students whose parents
make large donations to the college.
When an average student from
a very wealthy family is admitted
to an elite college because her parents
have made some type of fi nancial
commitment to the college, one
wonders how likely the student will
be to graduate.
Presumably, in an elite college,
she will have to compete against
academically superior classmates
enrolled in highly demanding
courses. If she does graduate, one
may question the rigor of the curriculum
off ered by the college.
Her graduation would suggest
that a college is labeled elite if it is
hard for students from non-wealthy
families to be admitted, but easy for
anyone to graduate.
Th eodore Sheskin, Flushing
ON MUSIC AND THE
Th roughout history, music has
been a profound cultural element
in nearly all of man’s diverse cultures.
It has played a benefi cial role
in human development and the civilizing
Scientists are discovering that
in addition to the positive eff ects
on human health, music enhances
intelligence. Research shows that
music is to the brain what physical
exercise is to the human body.
Musical training has shown to
lead to improvements in a wide
variety of diff erent skills, including
memory and spatial learning
for example. In addition, language
skills such as verbal memory, literacy
and verbal intelligence have been
shown to strongly benefi t from
Learning to play an instrument is
an unforgiving endeavor. You cannot
hide a wrong note or a missed
beat. Demanding rigorous disciplined
repetitious drills are indispensable
for the development of a
variety of skills, musical or otherwise.
But such drills are frowned
upon and in some schools considered
Th e signifi cance of musical skills
in the overall educational experience
is misunderstood and oft en
dismissed. In many school districts,
music programs are among the fi rst
to be replaced with trendy social
justice and multicultural studies.
Plato postulated “music is a more
potent instrument than any other
for education, because rhythm and
harmony fi nd their way into the
inward places of the soul.”
Ed Konecnik, Flushing
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