Ben Kabak has a great analysis of Sander's speech over at Second Avenue Sagas, including the meat of the proposals for expanding the system.
The City needs the projects Sander is selling here, and someone needs to step up and take the reins. It’s one thing to talk vaguely about subway expansion and the need for more lines. It’s another thing entirely to do what Sander is doing and putting forward plans that could revolutionize and modernize New York’s subway and public transit system.
For too long have the city and state leaders allowed the MTA to eke by on next to nothing. While Sander’s plan may be unrealistic, it takes a visionary to move things forward, and as the MTA sits on the precipice of its next 40 years, today’s speech made me think that Sander is the right man for the MTA at the right time.
As he said near the end of his speech, “As the MTA goes, so goes the region.” Now, let’s see what he can do.
I'll quibble only to say I don't think the vision is unrealistic. I think our transit policy for the past 50 years has been, and we are turning a corner now. This isn't merely about transportation: it's about sustainable development, smart land use policy, reducing pollution, weaning ourselves off the car and off of oil. In that sense, it's also about national security. The car makers and the oil companies set the agenda for development in this country for most of the 20th century. Unfortunately, it's taken decades for a majority to see the negative impacts to our society from automobile-based development patterns.
Sander frames the situation well: NYC is an international hub, that risks falling behind as Shanghai and other major cities catch up, and then outpace our infrastructure development. As Sander notes, "“Next year, we will have four tunnel-boring machines operating to expand the subway and regional rail systems. Sounds impressive?” he said. “Right now, Shanghai has 90 such machines at work on rail and other projects…Our biggest global competitor, China, spends 9 percent of its gross domestic product on infrastructure.Meanwhile, the United States spends less than 1% of its GDP. That is unacceptable.”
We are on the cusp of a new age. This is the sort of visionary leadership we need from our transit planners, and from our elected officials.
One thing I can promise you: if I am elected to the City Council next year, I will fight like hell for a major overhaul and expansion of our transit systems.
Other links, which have more information about the proposed circumferential:
Streetsblog on Triboro RX