What Matters for District 29

Transportation

Fully accessible sidewalks

The richest city, in the richest country in the world doesn’t provide fully accessible sidewalks for its most vulnerable citizens. That needs to change. In the fight for a more accessible subway people forget that the disabled and elderly have trouble doing something able bodied New Yorkers take for granted; crossing the street.

According to census data, there are over 570,000 New Yorkers with some form of an ambulatory disability; people that are unable to move from place to place without the aid of a wheelchair or other equipment. Every day, these people risk falling out of their wheelchair or taking longer routes just to find a crossable street.

I have a prepared plan to fix this.

  1. The Department of Transportation must survey all NYC sidewalk curbs in 90 days.
  2. Install ADA compliant ramps for the curbs without them in 5 years.
  3. Repair all of the noncompliant ramps within 8 years.

A fully accessible street scape will integrate the disabled and elderly further into the economic and cultural life of the city. Going to work or picking up their kids from school becomes that much easier with these accessible curb cuts. Such actions will benefit not only our elderly and disabled, but parents with strollers, workers with handcarts, and travelers with luggage. An accessible city is a truly egalitarian city.

Finish Queens Blvd Vision Zero Improvements

Between 2003 and 2013, dozens of New Yorkers were killed or injured on Queens Boulevard infamously known as the Boulevard of Death. It’s highway like design encouraged reckless speeding. I grew up next to Queens Boulevard. As a kid, I remember my mother would tell me to run as fast as I could with her to cross the boulevard. If we couldn’t sprint across, we would cross under the Blvd. using the 75th Ave. subway station. The elderly and disabled don’t have that luxury.

Mayor DeBlasio’s Vision Zero initiative made meaningful progress on drastically reducing the fatalities on our city roadways, including Queens Boulevard. Vision Zero included reduced speed limits, extended crosswalks, and protected bike lanes. In 2015, a Vision Zero redevelopment project began to revamp Queens Boulevard specifically to become more biker and pedestrian friendly. The project spans from Sunnyside to Kew Gardens and was supposed to be finished in 2018.

Queens-Blvd-and-Yellowstone-in-NYC

Years later, the last stretch of the project from Yellowstone Blvd to Union Turnpike has been indefinitely delayed. According to the Gothamist, a DOT official in the DeBlasio administration accused the Mayor of stalling these renovations to garner the support of councilmember Koslowitz for the borough mega jail in Kew Gardens.

If elected, I pledge to support the completion of this delayed project with our new mayor. We must forever close the chapter on the Boulevard of Death and begin a new chapter where the residents of the community are prioritized over expediency for automobiles. For the sake of our children, our elders, our neighbors we must finish this renovation. It is a matter of saving lives over politics, period.

Revamp AAR

Access-A-Ride-Queens-NYAccess A Ride (hereinafter AAR), better known by its users as Stress A Ride is a costly and ineffective paratransit service to our most vulnerable New Yorkers. In a city where only a fraction of the subway is accessible to the disabled on a good day, AAR has to pick up the slack.

AAR is designed to provide door to door service per ADA, NY State, and NYC mandates. However, more often than not, users are left between a shared ride that takes hours to get to their destination or are never picked up at all. In 2015, comptroller Scott Stringer detailed the gravity of AAR’s disservice to New Yorkers. Tens of thousands of riders were stranded, less than half of all trips were completed on time, and a majority of all pickups were discovered to have been manipulated by drivers to show more favorable service. This simply will not do.

Following the Comptrollers recommendations, I support the following; 

  1. Install and mandate the use of GPS technology in every vehicle to accurately monitor service.
  2. End self-reporting of AAR drivers to hold them accountable for the quality of service.
  3. Change waiting time windows so that riders have more time to arrive at pickup and drivers have less time to be considered late.

We cannot be satisfied with our neighbors and relatives being left out in the cold. NYC is more than capable of improving AAR or creating a fully accessible subway.

 

Expand City Ticket to weekday commuters

What if you could take the LIRR from Forest Hills or Kew Gardens to Penn Station at half the cost? Such a program already exists. It’s called City Ticket. On Saturdays and Sundays, a one-way peak LIRR ticket is only $4.50; as long as you start and stop your trip within NYC.

Penn-Station-LIRR-Entrance

I want to expand this program to commuters Monday through Friday.

This will benefit not just residents of the community, but residents across Queens. An expansion of City Ticket would benefit everyday New Yorkers in the following ways:

  • Commutes to Manhattan will be twice as fast at half the cost
  • New Yorkers living in transit deserts will have more affordable access to reliable commuter rail
  • Our subways and buses will be relieved from overcrowding

All while adding new revenue to the LIRR, improving air quality across Queens, and fighting climate change.

If elected, I plan on meeting and partnering with the CEO of the MTA Patrick Foye to discuss such an expansion. Getting everyone to their jobs in a reliable, affordable, and expedient way is possible, necessary, and urgent.

Expand FairFares to all NYC College Students

Non-tuition related expenses are a major contributing factor to college dropout rates in New York City. Essentials like textbooks, transportation, food, childcare, and housing cause an unbearable strain for too many students working part time jobs. An expansion of the FairFares program to all NYC college students would alleviate this burden and increase the graduation rate for college students across the city.

Under the current FairFares program, only New Yorkers living BELOW the federal poverty line are eligible for ½ priced MetroCards. The discount applies to Pay per Ride, Weekly, and Monthly MetroCards. This program must be expanded to include our college students across the city. Students should not have to choose between a MetroCard and a textbook or a MetroCard and groceries.

Under my proposal:

  • All public and private college students in NYC are eligible regardless of income
  • All community college and 4-year college students are eligible.

This expansion would cost the city less than 1% of its current expense budget. The disparity between college degree holders is too large between Manhattan and the outer boroughs. This incremental step would bridge the gap to make attending college more financially feasible for more New Yorkers across the city aspiring to join the middle class.