TO FULLY RECOVER FROM COVID-19, WE
MUST FOCUS ON PREVENTATIVE CARE
For many years I worked from four
in the afternoon until midnight and
from midnight to eight in the morning.
I waited on corners for buses that never
came and on empty platforms, worried
for my safety, while 20 or 30 minutes
passed before a train arrived. Our hospital
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TIMESLEDGER | QNS.COM | MARCH 11 - MARCH 17, 2022 15
BY JIM BURKE
Governor Hochul has twice postponed
the MTA fare hike and announced
major megaprojects across
three boroughs. She’s also announced
initiatives to confront subway safety.
Now, with a $6.4 billion budget surplus
and record federal highway aid,
the most far-reaching, most effective
investment our governor can make is
in more frequent service for millions of
current riders and to help public transit
attract millions of others considering
getting on board.
New York City is the city that never
sleeps. It’s time our buses and subway
schedules reflect that. We have always
prioritized the 9-5 office worker while
everyone else got the short end of the
stick. As we look toward the future, we
need a transit system that acknowledges
the debt of gratitude we owe low-income,
frontline service sector workers
and how the pandemic has transformed
LAST WEEK’S TOP STORY:
Four arrested, dozens of weapons seized in ghost gun
raids in Bayside and Flushing: DA
SUMMARY: Four northeast Queens residents in Bayside and
Flushing were arrested and charged with possessing arsenals of
illegal firearms, including 27 ghost guns, assault weapons, firearm
accessories, more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition and highcapacity
magazines and $50,000 in cash.
workers, doormen, deliveristas,
cooks, bakers and more continue to
suffer long waits. It was never fair but
now it has no justification. Since the
pandemic, our new normal is that riders
from a great variety of jobs now
also travel in the so-called “off hours,”
all day and all week.
When riders see long waits on countdown
clocks, and realize no bus or train
is coming soon, they give up. They cancel
their trip or take an Uber or Lyft
which, for our fellow NYers with fewer
resources, often means doing without
essentials during the week just to keep
their job, to make an appointment or to
pick up their kids from school and daycare.
Those with more resources opt to
drive themselves. All of this results in
more congested and more dangerous
streets. Shorter wait times mean quicker
service and more riders in a system
that sorely needs them back.
The best way to invest in NYC’s future
is investing in subway and bus service
that runs every six minutes. The
effect will be profound and its benefits
felt first and foremost by people and
communities that have always had substandard
service: our essential workers.
More frequent service isn’t just a
matter of convenience, it’s a question
of equity. Not only are Black and brown
New Yorkers more likely to perform
essential jobs that all NYC residents
depend on, they’re also more likely to
endure very long commute times.
More frequent buses and trains yield
faster door-to-door commutes because
riders spend less time waiting to board.
That means less time at bus stops and
less time on train platforms. Less time
in transit means more time for work,
family, education, healthcare and participation
in civic activities and with
each other. Less time waiting for buses
and trains is also a boon for rider safety.
Thanks to federal emergency aid
and infrastructure funding, MTA services
are still going strong despite billions
in pandemic-driven lost fares.
There are literally tens of billions of
dollars in the megaproject pipeline for
legacy efforts like Penn Station and the
Second Avenue subway and bold equity
initiatives like Interborough Express.
These worthwhile projects will take
a number of years before we see any
benefits. The governor can invest in
improved service immediately. We can
restore what we have lost and build our
service back better NOW.
Jim Burke of Queens is a member of
the Riders Alliance, New York’s grassroots
organization of subway and bus