Saturday, May 24, 2014

Cap'n Transit: Extend The N To Astoria

It's time to extend the N train to LaGuardia
It was foolish and shortsighted of the community to oppose the N extension to LGA at the time. But times change.  We need to think big about the next phase of transit expansion in our city and region. Subway access to LGA is an excellent candidate - and the timing is right.  Since we're in the early stages of a major airport modernization, we ought to provision for improved transit access.
"The train was indeed shelved due to community opposition, as everyone reminds us, but what they fail to note is that the "community leaders" are all gone. Read through the list of politicians who came out against the plan. Denis Butler and Walter McCaffrey are dead. Peter Vallone, Senior is retired, and so is George Onorato, and Vallone Junior has been term-limited out. John Sabini was hustled off to the Racing Authority after a DUI conviction in 2007. Not only are these windshield-perspective politicians gone, but their replacements are much less wedded to the idea that cars are the future. Senator Michael Gianaris and his protégée Assemblymember Aravella Simotas are disappointing in some ways, but they've kept their car activism pretty low-key, as has Senator José Peralta. City Council members Jimmy Van Bramer and Costa Constantinides are both progressive on transit issues. Van Bramer, who represents me, has supported congestion pricing and the Midtown Tunnel Bus. Constantinides lost a bit of cred by coming out way too early in support of another term for Jimmy Vacca as head of the Transportation Committee, but has been a strong supporter of livable streets issues overall. I believe that Van Bramer is a member of Transportation Alternatives, and I know Constantinides has been not just a member but an active supporter, marching with them at public events. They may keep their One Less Car T-shirts in the bottom of their drawers, but they definitely do not see cars as the only way to prosperity for their constituents. Community Board 1 may still be led by trolls who think parking is Astoria's number one issue, but they'll be gone soon as well. More importantly, the voters and donors in that area care more about trains than parking today."

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