Lawmakers ride the trains for 24-hour transit tour
by Benjamin Fang
Oct 10, 2018 | 2787 views | 0 0 comments | 215 215 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For the second straight year, city and state lawmakers took to the subways for a transit tour to survey riders.

Over a span of 24 hours, Manhattan Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who chairs the City Council’s Transportation Committee, rode the rails throughout the five boroughs.

Along the way, he and his team of volunteers collected responses from straphangers, met with other legislators and spoke with MTA officials.

The data collected will be presented during an upcoming City Council hearing on the subways. Rodriguez said he’s still working with the MTA to finalize a date.

“Riders want to be heard, they are frustrated,” he said. “The crisis that has impacted the MTA, especially related to delays and overcrowding, didn’t happen overnight.”

Rodriguez wouldn’t say if the subways have improved since the last time he went on his transit tour, but said he has heard mixed answers from riders.

“We’re trying to get the data to compare,” he said. “I don’t want to come out with any conclusions.”

The Inwood councilman, however, said he does know that whatever new funding the MTA receives should be going toward repair and maintenance. He also said the MTA should establish a mechanism to control cost and finish projects on time.

He insisted that the subway system has to be upgraded in the next five to 10 years. To make that happen, Rodriguez said MTA leadership must be held accountable, every dollar spent should be transparent, and the money should be used for repairs and maintenance.

Councilman Antonio Reynoso and Assemblywoman Maritza Davila joined Rodriguez at the Lorimer Street and Metropolitan Avenue stop in Williamsburg on Thursday afternoon. Reynoso, who rode the subway with his City Council colleague to Union Square, said he spoke to one rider who was “unmoved” by the subway crisis.

“It’s become something so common, the delays specifically, that he doesn’t see it as a bad thing or a good thing,” he said. “That’s just what the subways are. He just sees it as a matter of fact.”

A subway problem specific to his district is just how crowded the L train is, the north Brooklyn lawmaker said. Though it’s a reliable train –– the L train shutdown notwithstanding –– riders often have to let two or three L trains pass during rush hour, he said.

“People are stuffing themselves in like sardines to try to get to work,” he said. “I really want to get to a place where that doesn’t happen.”

Reynoso, a self-proclaimed “big data guy,” said he’s excited to see the results and for the hearing. Both he and Rodriguez praised the MTA for following along on the tour and listening to riders throughout the two-day process.

Specifically, Reynoso praised New York City Transit President Andy Byford for showing “great leadership in the short time that he’s been here.” He has even attended local meetings for the L train shutdown.

“I actually feel good about Andy,” Reynoso said. “I just hope that he gets the support he needs at the state level to follow through on a lot of his plans.”

Rodriguez said he hopes the transit tour will be an annual exercise, even when he is no longer in office.

“I hope that whoever takes our seats in the future, they will continue doing this,” he said.
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