FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 24, 2008
MAYOR BLOOMBERG DISCUSSES MASS TRANSIT IMPROVEMENTS THAT CONGESTION PRICING WILL MAKE POSSIBLE IN WEEKLY RADIO ADDRESS
The following is the text of Mayor Bloomberg's weekly radio address as prepared for delivery on 1010 WINS News Radio for Sunday, March 23, 2008
"Good Morning. This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
"Tomorrow morning, tens of thousands of New Yorkers will begin the work week with a long bus ride to a ferry station or subway stop, and then transfer there to continue traveling to jobs in Manhattan. That kind of commuting can be tedious and time-consuming - and last week, we previewed ways that, with help from Washington, we can make getting to work faster and easier for New Yorkers who don't have a lot of other commuting options.
"Federal funding is key - because without it, there's just no way to pay for the projects I'm about to describe. Thankfully, the U.S. Department of Transportation has pledged $354 million to the City for such transit improvements - if and only if our City Council and State Legislature approve a plan to set a congestion pricing fee for driving into the busiest parts of Manhattan during the busiest hours of the work week. And we already know how to use that money to do the most good - immediately.
"We will, for example, make greater use of what's known as 'transit signal priority.' That's technology that equips buses to automatically send out infrared signals as they approach certain intersections, so that traffic lights can be adjusted to speed bus travel. Using Federal funds, we've already done a trial run of transit signal priority on bus routes to and from the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island.
"The result: We've shaved commuting times on those routes by up to 17%. Now we'll use even more Federal funds to install this technology along Utica Avenue in Brooklyn, Union Street, Sutphin Boulevard, Hillside Avenue in Queens and Richmond Terrace on Staten Island. But we'll only get the money for those projects if congestion pricing is approved.
"We've got other plans to improve transit service, too. Right now, for example, express buses from Throgs Neck in the Bronx make their last stop at 23rd Street in Manhattan; commuters going to jobs downtown face another half-hour subway ride. Using Federal funds, we can provide them 'one-seat' rides all the way to and from work. In fact, extra Federal funds will allow the MTA to buy more than 300 buses for new local and express routes, and to expand service on existing routes. It also will permit the MTA to increase service on the E,C,F, and Number 1 subway lines. But to get those Federal dollars, we've got to enact congestion pricing first.
"A critical part of the MTA's new five-year capital plan is at least $4.5 billion in funds that would be created by bonding out $500 million a year in congestion pricing fees. Even with everything else we're doing, including eliminating about 30,000 free on-street parking placards, if we're going to improve commuting in New York City, we have to say 'yes' to congestion pricing.
"This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Thanks for listening - and have a Happy Easter."
Stu Loeser (212) 788-2958
Listen to the radio address