by the Board of Directors
Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce
We know that a successful environment for business depends on having fast, reliable transit options for our customers and employees to get to our locations, and in order for us to deliver goods and services within Flushing and across New York City. Unfortunately, the public transit system today is an impediment, not a facilitator, for economic development. Our buses are slow and streets overcrowded, and our trains are unreliable. We must fix the system now, since the cost will only increase if we take no action.
Our elected representatives in Albany – the Governor, the State Senate and Assembly – must finally take leadership to generate the sort of reliable, sustainable funding necessary to make the investments NYCT President Andy Byford has described in his Fast Forward Plan. Central to that effort is congestion pricing, which will help generate much needed revenue dedicated to transit as well as help decrease traffic in the Central Business District in Manhattan. Congestion pricing could raise up to $1 billion annually and should be included in the state budget.
However, we also know that Queens business owners and commuters do not receive our fair share of resources and investments from the state. Downtown Flushing is the 4th largest business district in New York City and we deserve substantial public investment that reflects the amount of economic activity and taxes we generate. We must look at our transit system holistically, specifically including the following core components:
Subway reliability: Subways are the lifeblood of New York; Flushing businesses, workers, and shoppers rely on the 7 train. This train’s service record must improve.
Bus Service: Many people prefer to walk in Flushing because they often move faster than the bus. We must prioritize buses on city streets and increase, not decrease service.
Long Island Rail Road: For many, the LIRR is prohibitively expensive. Yet it remains the fastest way to commute between Flushing and Manhattan. The LIRR should be made more affordable along the lines of the proposed Freedom Ticket outlined by NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer.
Greater Flushing will only continue to grow in terms of economic importance and activity. We need a transit system that can keep up, and the business community needs a seat at the table as we advocate for transportation that serves our neighborhoods. Congestion pricing is not a panacea, but will help raise the resources we need, and we look forward to working with our elected leaders to make it a reality in 2019.