Sanders Explains His Congestion Pricing Vote
As I ride the trains and buses, I am often struck by the reaction of people seeing their Councilman traveling as they do. When questioned why, I tell them that if this means of transportation is good enough for my bosses - the people of my District - then it better be good enough for me. Since 70 percent of my travel is by public transportation, I share the daily frustration of whether the train or bus will be late again, will it be dirty or cold, whether there will be seats.
Sometimes I drive into Manhattan to attend meetings and I know the gridlock that grips our city. It is possible to take a half an hour to go ten blocks on a bad day (and there are plenty of those). These are some of the reasons why New Yorkers have among the longest daily commuting times in the nation.
Mott Avenue station, the first stop of the "A" train, is a station that breaks the law daily by not being handicapped accessible, yet must be navigated by elders, the infirm, pregnant women and others. They must handle the more than 70 steps - this stairway to heaven - that lie between them and the train. For many years the authorities have promised to comply with the law to no avail. Shamefully, the weakest among us are forced to travel to the Beach 116 Street station to board the train, as it is accessible.
Faced with often shabby public transportation and overcrowded roads, was there any question that I voted for congestion pricing? Among the changes that you will see will be the rehabilitation of six "A" train stations in the Rockaways; Mott Avenue is remade and becomes handicapped accessible; and the repair of the steel bridges crossing the Jamaica Bay.
For those who travel through the Jamaica station, capital improvements there will result in an enhanced Long Island Rail Road service. For the entire city, we will see new trains, buses and 1,016 new Access-A-Ride vans, station upgrades, structural enhancements and repairs, and communication improvements.
With a million new residents expected in New York City in the near future, shall we continue to experience a slow decline of our public transportation system and the roadways - or shall we strike out for a better future?
I voted for the future.
Now some will say that I have been naive to trust the MTA. Let me alert my neighbors that legally, this money must be used solely for the improvements that we vote for to improve the lives of my constituents.
JAMES SANDERS JR.