Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics


Mayoral Issue Grid: Transportation

Mayoral Issue Grid


-2nd Ave Subway
-7 Extension
-Rail Link from Lower Manhattan to JFK Airport
-Rail Freight tunnel
-East River Tolls
-Congestion Pricing
-Subway Commute?

The last new subway line opened in New York City nearly 65 years ago, but candidates for mayor are making bold promises to undertake new mass transit plans.

For years, officials have been promising a Second Avenue Subway. It was first proposed in the 1920s. Recently, the MTA committed $1 billion for the subway line that would run from 125th Street to Hanover Square. It will cost an estimated $12.5 billion and take 17 years to build.

As part of his plan to develop the West Side of Manhattan, Mayor Michael Bloomerg has also proposed an extension of the number 7-subway line to 11th Avenue. It will cost an estimated $2 billion.

In Lower Manhattan, officials have plans to build a direct rail link from downtown to John F. Kennedy airport.

Some officials are also calling for a cross-harbor rail tunnel to be built between New Jersey and Brooklyn. The 5.5-mile tunnel would ship goods into the city and reduce truck traffic on area roads. As part of a new federal transportation funding bill, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler secured $100 million to help launch the project.

While there are tolls on many bridges and tunnels in New York City, there are 12 city-owned bridges between Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx that are free to cross. Some estimate that charging $7 to cross the East River bridges and $3 for the Harlem River bridges could generate as much as $690 million a year.

Another way to reduce traffic and pollution is called "congestion pricing," charging drivers varying prices to come into the city at certain times of day. The city of London has instituted congestion pricing, charging people higher fees for driving in and out of the city at rush hour. The practice has reduced traffic in the city by 30 percent.

When running for office in 2001, Michael Bloomberg committed to ride the subway to City Hall to demonstrate his commitment to the environment and to public transportation.

Fernando Ferrer

Fernando Ferrer supports the construction of the Second Avenue subway and the 7-train extension to the West Side of Manhattan.

He is also a supporter of the cross-harbor freight tunnel between New Jersey and Brooklyn.

Ferrer is opposed to tolls on the East River bridges. At a recent forum he said, "Tolls on the East River bridges, even Mike Bloomberg walked away from that because he knows one other thing: There are people in this city who work hard every day who depend on their vehicles to make deliveries or get in to work. We've got to find a way to get them to use mass transit. But I'm not going to be the one to say they can't earn a living in New York City."

However, Ferrer does support congestion pricing. In a questionnaire for the New York League of Conservation voters, he wrote; "I do favor a congestion pricing policy, but one that is part of a larger framework; a framework which incorporates an expanded freight rail system, an efficient subway system, and an expanded ferry system."

At a recent forum, Ferrer said, if elected, he would take the subway from Gracie Mansion to City Hall.

Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg has expressed general support of the Second Avenue subway line, but has spent considerable effort on the plan to extend the 7-train, because it was part of his plan for a West Side stadium.

Bloomberg supports a lower Manhattan rail link to JFK, which he called “the single most important project for the future of Lower Manhattan” in his 2005 State of the City address

In March, Mayor Bloomberg withdrew city support for the cross-harbor rail freight tunnel between New Jersey and Brooklyn. Some residents of Brooklyn are opposed to the project because they say it will bring more traffic and pollution to their neighborhood. Bloomberg says he now agrees with them.

Bloomberg proposed tolling the East River bridges to help raise money during the fiscal crisis, but he dropped the idea.

Bloomberg is open to the idea of congestion pricing. In a questionnaire for the League of Conservation Voters, Bloomberg wrote; "To determine the feasibility and effectiveness of implementing a congestion pricing program, the administration is closely studying the impact of London's program on that city's traffic congestion, as well as any corollary effects of the policy. While London's program has reduced traffic congestion dramatically in the business district, according to reports by the London Chamber of Commerce and the Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors, there has been a significant decrease in business activity in the area since the policy was introduced. The program's high operating costs have also limited the city's net revenue. We will continue to study the issue, but will not implement such a policy that could have a deleterious effect on local businesses."

Mayor Bloomberg regularly takes the subway from his house on the Upper East Side to City Hall.


- Security and the NYC Subways
- The State Budget’s $38.5 Billion Transportation Program
- What's Better, What's Worse During Bloomberg's Administration?
- Rail Freight Tunnel
- New Subway Projects and Their Benefits
- The Proposed Trains to Planes



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