Fight NYC inequality with more expansive subway options

One writer suggests Mayor DeBlasio could address inequality in New York City by improving the subway:

To see how that works in practice, de Blasio should spend a week commuting on the subway from various points in the city: taking the No. 7 train from Flushing, the L train from Greenpoint, the F train from Fort Hamilton Parkway.

Such an exercise may remind de Blasio that while a few rich people can bail out of mass transit by taking ever-cheaper black cars, most New Yorkers are stuck on a subway system that is creaking under record ridership.

The mayor should do some weekend, night and borough-to-borough commutes, too, so he can see how hard it is for lower-paid, off-hours workers to get around when the MTA cuts its service.

Then, the mayor should agree to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s request to put $3 billion into investments in subways and buses over the next five years, helping to pay for the next few stops on the Second Avenue Subway, plus better technology on existing subway lines.

The mayor should think seriously, too, about funding his own transit project. He mentioned a subway on Utica Avenue, and then never talked about it again. With China’s economy cratering, it’s a good time to build — steel and concrete are cheaper.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s extension of the 7 train to Manhattan’s Far West Side will open soon — and New Yorkers will remember that Bloomberg did it.

What will they remember about de Blasio?

Powerful politicians often like to enhance their legacy through the construction of massive buildings or public works projects. And mass transit can easily become an issue tied up with social class and race as mass transit in theory is supposed to be more democratic. But, how many would like their legacy to be underground subways in a city that already has an extensive system? Such projects often take billions of dollars, cause all sorts of disruptions, and can be lengthy. This might only work in New York City, a place so dependent on daily subway usage (particularly compared to other large American cities).

If pushed by the mayor, can a new line be called the de Blasio line? I can’t help but think of the “Rod Blagojevich, Governor” signs every time I pass through the open road tolling facilities on Chicago area tollways…

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