Lhota's solution to car congestion: subway terminus park-and-rides
Former M.T.A. chairman Joe Lhota has a solution to the problem of congestion in New York City's central business district: parking lots at the terminus of every subway line.
"It’s real simple," Lhota told reporters, after raising the idea during a Republican candidates forum on transportation. "Go to the end of each and every one of our rail lines and put a park-n-ride. Put a garage."
Is there room for that sort of thing?
"Sure there is," he said. "Make room. We can make room. There are more than enough places to do it. I’ve gone to the ends of each one of them. Look, if we were to build a subway system today, we would have built them with park-n-rides. The fact of the matter is, we built our subway system and designed it when we didn’t have cars and there wasn’t a proliferation of the number of cars."
"It might have been a good idea in 1904, when you could make parking lots out of those spaces, but now they’re neighborhoods," countered subway rider advocate Gene Russianoff, of the Straphangers Campaign.
The M.T.A. had no comment.
Lhota's Republican competitors had other ideas on how best to deal with traffic congestion, vehicle collisions and car-related air pollution.
John Catsimatidis, the billionaire grocery store and oil magnate, said that bicycles cause a lot of unnecessary congestion: "Some of these bike lanes have converged and taken away 20 percent of our parking spaces."
He can't remember where he heard that figure, Rob Ryan, Catsimatidis' spokesman, later told me, adding that it was it was at some sort of policy briefing or business association meeting.
Ryan thinks Catsimatidis meant to say that bike lanes have usurped 20 percent of parking spaces along the Manhattan roads that have them.
(Transportation Alternatives executive director Paul Steely White countered that, "Most lanes just require a few to be removed if that and those that are removed are usually at intersections where there is a strong safety reason to do so anyway. Most bike lane space comes from narrowing car lanes to non highway standards.")
Doe Fund founder George McDonald said that aimless walking is big cause of traffic collisions and proposed “a campaign to keep people on the sidewalk and not step out into the street, to wait for the light to change.”
Former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, who's running on the Independence Party line, endorsed congestion pricing.
“Is Sam Schwartz here?" he asked, referring to the former transportation commissioner who's come up with a new and borough-palatable congestion pricing plan that would equalize tolls across the boroughs.
"I just want to tell him I endorse his plan.”