Guest Op-Ed: Public transportation needs attention, now!

As I prepare to take office, I am asking you to hold me to account. I’m also asking my soon-to-be colleagues in the City Council to hunker down with me really to get some results for our constituents when it comes to public transportation.

The time for finger pointing is over. Solutions are long overdue. We need all hands on deck and I’m ready to lock myself in a room with all of you until we figure out the path forward.

Residents of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach and Bensonhurst deserve a representative in City Hall who is unflinchingly honest about public transit, the lifeblood of our city.

As a longtime member of the Riders Alliance, which organizes New Yorkers to win better transit, and routinely speaks transit truth to power, I commit to being the same advocate in office that I was as a private citizen, the same advocate voters elected in November.

A few weeks ago, the R train literally collapsed in Bay Ridge: a tunnel wall fell onto the tracks in front of a train full of passengers. Sadly, that is only the most gravitational manifestation of the crisis on our subways.

Ancient signals from the time of FDR and vintage subway cars from the era of JFK still propel around underground – but just barely.

We are the greatest city in the world. On just about everything, we lead and others follow. But right now, other cities are eating our lunch when it comes to public transportation.

We desperately need to modernize the system and put new equipment in place. Subway delays are up threefold in the past five years. Signal failures have multiplied. Creaky cars spend more time in the maintenance garage than on the tracks. Rush hour has become a misnomer save for the hour part.

During this year’s campaign, I met people from all walks of life – rich, poor, young, old, students, seniors, single parents, working class, middle class –  and we all had one thing in common: we rely on New York City subway and buses. Public transportation is the great equalizer. As lawmakers, righting this ship deserves our undivided attention.

Indeed, the MTA does need a new vision to upgrade and modernize the transit system but I don’t believe there is a silver bullet here. I think we need to put all the options on the table and work together towards a solution.

We were elected to help solve problems and get our city moving again. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and make good on that covenant. I can’t promise it’ll be quick or painless, but I can promise that you’ll never see me stop pushing.

Justin Brannan is new councilmember of the 43rd C.D.

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