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Public Transit Matters to New York

Public transit is vital to the health of New York and New Yorkers.  Our subways and buses carry more than 7 million people  every day—to work, to run errands, to see the doctor, to visit friends and family.  Sometimes we even run into a movie star…or meet a future spouse.

But public transit is also important to the future of the city. Subway and bus service allows the city to grow without being overrun by cars—one estimate holds that we would need 84 additional Queens-Midtown Tunnels to get the same number of people to work if we didn’t run subways!  (And most of midtown would have to be bulldozed to provide parking.)    Public transit allows New York’s transportation system to produce less carbon emissions per capita than any other in the country, helping protect the environment and counteract climate change: an important goal for a city at sea level.

For New York to thrive in the 21st century, we will have to improve public transit.  A 2006 study estimates that the city already loses more than $13 billion annually (and produces up to 50,000 fewer jobs for New Yorkers) because of traffic congestionand congestion is expected to increase again as the economy recovers from the recession.

More than 7 million New Yorkers feel the daily pinch of service cuts enacted in 2010—facing a budget crisis, the MTA reduced or eliminated 3 subway trains, cut 32 bus lines altogether and took away 570 bus stops.  Meanwhile, fares have increased 3 times since 2008, and the MTA proposes additional increases in 2013, 2015 and 2017.

New Yorkers are paying more for less, and the entire city suffers—not just the 7 million people taking the bus and train every day, but all New Yorkers who rely on the regional economy to provide jobs, opportunity and a decent quality of life.

Transit in Decline, and No Political Consequences

Ridership is at the highest levels in 45 years, but the MTA has been forced to increase fares and reduce service—a toxic combination for the future of the transit system.  Meanwhile, New York’s global competitors are investing heavily in public transit: Shanghai, for example, has built a subway system larger than New York’s, from scratch, in only the last two decades.

Many riders blame the MTA for cutting service and raising fares.  The MTA is responsible for providing good service, and it must constantly cut waste and reduce inefficiency.  But responsibility also lies with the elected officials who make important decisions about the state’s budget priorities.  In 2010 and 2011, the governor and members of the state legislature took $260 million out of the MTA’s budget to plug other holes in the state budget—more than enough money to restore the dramatic cuts in transit service.

Transit riders lose out again and again—because the millions of people who rely on subways and buses are not organized to demand better.

The Riders Alliance fills that gap: we organize transit riders to advocate for their own interests: with the MTA, in the press and with local elected officials who make important decisions about transit funding and policy.

Our Approach: Grass-Roots Community organizing

The Riders Alliance has a complementary approach to the work of important citywide transportation advocates like the Straphangers Campaign and Transportation Alternatives.  We organize riders around local transit concerns, neighborhood by neighborhood—and by doing so, we build a corps of local activists and grass-roots transit leaders in communities around the city.

We believe that lawmakers respond best to their own constituents, and that an organized group of local residents, trained and empowered to demand results, will fill an important gap in transit advocacy, helping win the sustainable, long-term funding needed to fix public transit in New York.

Join us today to fight for good service at affordable fares—for 7 million daily subway and bus riders, and for everyone who cares about the future of our city.