Campaign Victories!

tolani at press conference cropped

Since the Riders Alliance began organizing in the spring of 2012, we’ve won significant campaign victories throughout the city.  These wins include:

Tax-Free Transit Benefits

Riders Alliance members worked with City Council Member Dan Garodnick and pro-transit allies in the Council to pass legislation that will help an additional 450,000 New Yorkers access cost savings with pre-tax transit benefits.  According to our analysis, the average New Yorker earning the median income could save as much as $443 every year with transit benefits–but hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers can’t access that tax savings because their employers don’t provide them with an opportunity to set aside funds.  Our bill requires firms that employ 20 or more New Yorkers to allow them to set aside pre-tax income to pay for transit–a win-win-win for employers, riders and public transportation.  The City Council passed Council Member Garodnick’s bill in October 2014, and Riders Alliance members were proud to join Mayor de Blasio to sign the bill into law that month.  Now we are working with the City to implement the legislation, which goes into effect on January 1, 2016.

Bus Stop Countdown Clocks

11 City Council Members and the Brooklyn Borough President approved over $2.8 million to install countdown clocks at bus stops across the city! Bus countdown clocks will now be appearing in the following districts:

Bronx: Fernando Cabrera ($113,000); Andrew Cohen ($40,000)
Brooklyn: Brad Lander ($240,000); Mark Treyger ($100,000), Borough President Eric Adams ($60,000)
Manhattan: Margaret Chin ($260,000); Dan Garodnick ($950,000); Corey Johnson ($35,000); Ben Kallos ($640,000)
Queens: Eric Ulrich ($180,000); Mark Weprin ($35,000)
Staten Island: Steven Matteo ($200,000)

Bus countdown clocks are a major step forward in improving the daily commutes of riders in all five boroughs.

Improved G train service:

Our members began organizing for better G train service in the fall of 2012.  With the leadership of State Senators Daniel Squadron and Martin Dilan, we requested that the MTA conduct a Full Line Review of the G train–and then while the MTA conducted its study, we kept the pressure on with rider outreach, media campaigns and even a tongue-in-cheek “G Train Workout Plan” exercise video.

The MTA released its review in summer 2013, and we won the following improvements: 25% more G train service in the afternoon and evening; reduced crowding in the morning because the MTA will space trains at even intervals; and clear signs on the platform that indicate where the four-car train will stop.

Better buses and train stations in Astoria and Long Island City: 

In the winter of 2012, Riders Alliance members surveyed bus riders about their experiences and documented conditions at N/Q train station in Western Queens. With our grassroots membership team, we advocated for “50 Fixes” to N/Q train stations and improved bus service. In the summer of 2013, and with the leadership of State Senator Michael Gianaris and other local elected officials, we won: activation of an N/Q train audio announcement system that lets riders know when to expect the next train, repairs to every N/Q station in Astoria, and increased bus service on the Vernon Blvd. Q103 bus.

18 million dollars for service restorations:  

New York State’s 2013 budget included $40 million in unexpected funds for the MTA, due to increased tax revenue from a recovering economy, and we worked to guarantee that riders would see direct benefits from the additional funds.  Working with the Straphangers Campaign and a broad coalition of elected officials from all five boroughs, we pushed the MTA to use the additional funds to restore bus and subway service levels that had been reduced during the economic downturn.  In its proposed 2014 budget, the MTA agreed to increase service levels by $18 million annually.

Better bus and subway service during R and G train tunnel closures:

When the MTA announced that it were closing R and G train tunnels for Superstorm Sandy-related repairs, the Riders Alliance helped form the Subway Tunnel Closure Working Group. Working with transit advocates, elected officials and community groups, we pushed the MTA to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of subway riders who would have longer, more crowded commutes during this extended period of tunnel construction. The MTA responded to our advocacy and in the fall of 2013 we won: 25% more service on the X27 express bus from Bay Ridge to Lower Manhattan, “gap trains” to add service in the event of delays on the 4/5/D/N/R lines, the restoration of the B37 bus in Bay Ridge to Downtown Brooklyn, and a guarantee that construction on the G train would not coincide with construction on the nearby 7 and L trains.