Let’s Hear More About Transit Policy That NYC’s Next Mayor Can Control

Four of the Democratic mayoral candidates appeared on MSNBC with Chris Hayes Sunday morning, and for a short while the subject turned to transit. About two minutes into this segment, Hayes prompted former City Council member Sal Albanese to discuss his proposal to band together with other mayors to lobby Washington for more transit funding. John Liu, Bill Thompson, and Bill de Blasio then took turns discussing their various ideas for getting the feds and/or Albany to direct more funding to the city’s transit system.

The funding issue, however, is mainly Governor Cuomo’s problem to solve, not the mayor’s. The one major transit issue that the next mayor can actually control — namely, prioritizing space for transit on NYC’s streets — didn’t come up on the show. Time was limited, of course, but it would have been great to see someone pivot to the issue of improving surface transit.

Select Bus Service has shown that something can be done to speed up New York’s notoriously pokey buses. The next mayor could do much more, by building better bus lanes and by bringing improvements to routes throughout the bus network on a faster timetable. The Nostrand Avenue SBS project, for instance, has been in the public planning phase for more than three years, and the first SBS improvements for Queens are still in development.

New Yorkers make more than 2 million bus trips every weekday. That’s a lot of voters who know what it’s like to ride a bus that gets bogged down in traffic, or to wait forever for a bus that’s been thrown off the posted schedule. So let’s hear the candidates talk about how they’ll make life better by delivering faster, more reliable bus service.