We are Eastern Queens residents who commute to work and school, shops, restaurants, and parks via public transportation, as well as other modes of transportation.
Our vision for our communities is one where all residents can live independently without a car. This means we need safe streets for walking and biking and accessing transit within our communities and reliable transportation for traveling to and from our neighborhoods. This must include reliable bus, subway, express bus, and Long Island Railroad service.
We acknowledge that children, students, seniors, and other segments of the population often cannot drive due economic or physical limitations and we believe that good transportation is crucial for equitable mobility.
We have noticed that it is taking longer and longer to get to work and to school for our ourselves and neighbors, resulting in lost time with family, time to study, and time for recreation, including time to enjoy our parks. This is reducing our quality of life in Eastern Queens.
We are still suffering from the service cuts of 2010, which eliminated and reduced bus routes that served our residents, students, commuters, and provided access to our parks. This includes the elimination of the Q14, Q74, Q75 and service reductions on the Q26, Q42, and Q31. Since 2010, we have experienced additional service reductions while fares have increased.
While many of us remember short bus rides to the subway, simply getting to our closet stations: Flushing Main Street, Jamaica 179th Street, or Kew Gardens-Union Turnpike now takes upwards of 40 minutes, discouraging the use of mass transit. More residents now opt to drive, worsening traffic and congestion in our neighborhoods and throughout the city, slowing buses, deliveries, and emergency vehicles.
We hope that once the existing infrastructure is stabilized, revenue from congestion pricing can fund better bus service in Eastern Queens.
New York City Transit President Andy Byford’s Fast Forward plan is an ambitious endeavor to modernize subway signals and speed up our buses. However, it requires a dedicated revenue stream, approximately $1 billion per year for 10 years.
Congestion pricing is the only way to both reduce congestion and fund transit. It has worked in London, Stockholm, Singapore, Milan and other great cities around the world.
In New York City, we anticipate a congestion pricing system, which will charge individuals entering the Manhattan central business district via the Queensboro, Williamsburg, Manhattan, or Brooklyn Bridge
In addition to a dedicated revenue stream, it will also reduce congestion on the road.
According to the Riders Alliance, QM1, QM2, QM3, QM4, QM5, QM6, QM7, and QM8 riders could save 50-97 minutes per day if congestion pricing is implemented.
Most of us currently pay $1,452 a year for the metrocard bus and subway service. Taking the LIRR into Manhattan and then using the subway/bus brings the total to $4,164. Doing the same on an express bus costs $4,308 just to commute to work.
It is only fair to ask drivers to pay more when their choices are costing their neighbors time and money.
Congestion pricing would also discourage Long Islanders from clogging up our expressways and major arterials, polluting our air and endangering our families.
Reliable and frequent transit would also help New Yorkers from denser parts of the city access our parks, green space, and institutions. This would bring foot traffic and revenue to our local businesses.
We believe that environmentalism is not just about celebrating nature, but actively working to preserve our biosphere. We love our coastal communities and its access to parks, forests, wetlands, Little Neck Bay, and the Long Island Sound. We are deeply concerned about the impacts of climate change, including sea level rise and the mass extinction of flora and fauna that we are witnessing firsthand.
Our transit system requires vast improvements and a large investment to end the vicious cycle of driving to escape unreliable transit. The passage of congestion pricing represents a significant step towards ending our transit crisis and reducing our carbon emissions.
As founding member Joby Jacob stated on Twitter:
This is perhaps the most critical moment in all of human history. We have just 10 years to address the climate crisis. Every single thing that can be done to make public transit work and discourage single occupancy vehicles must be done.