Another group that would benefit from free public transport: bus drivers

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Welcome to “The Mobile City”, our weekly roundup of newsworthy transportation developments.

Comment: Free public transport would also improve the life of bus drivers

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) launched a pilot project that removed fares on Boston’s busiest bus route, Route 28, which runs from Ruggles subway station to Roxbury in Mattapan via Nubian (formerly Dudley) Square and Blue Hiil Avenue via Dorchester. Writing in the Boston Globe, columnist Abdallah Fayyad urges city officials and the MBTA to study not only the effect of free fares on ridership, but also their effect on bus drivers.

In his essay, Fayyad notes that bus drivers are the front-line workers responsible for collecting fares and enforcing fare policy. This, he argues, puts drivers in a difficult position to begin with: “If drivers had to face all the scammers, the buses would never be on time,” he wrote. “And if they don’t try to stop people from riding without paying, then other cyclists might start to think that paying is no good.”

Bus drivers face both verbal and physical abuse from passengers when discouraging fare evasion. And this physical violence can even turn deadly: Fayyad notes a 2008 incident where a New York City bus driver was fatally stabbed for an unpaid ticket.

But even though violence never occurs, the competing pressures of time and policy application lead to arbitrary and capricious policy application. Fayyad used a trip he took as an example: the driver waved to him and a passenger he was talking to on board without paying in order to board a crowd waiting for the bus, then, a few stops later, the trip was delayed for several minutes. while the driver insisted that another passenger pay the price.

This passenger, by the way, was Black, while Fayyad is not. And Fayyad goes on to point out that the fare evasion punishment falls disproportionately on the shoulders of black and brown passengers: “In Brooklyn, NY, for example, 90% of those arrested for fare evasion were black or Hispanic. In Washington, DC, 91 percent of fare evasion citations or summons were issued to black runners. And in Boston, 62% of the people the MBTA Transit Police gave citations to were either black or Hispanic, ”he writes.

“Often people escape tariffs simply because they cannot afford them,” he concludes. “This is why free public transport would create more equitable cities and increase the mobility of people. And beyond the benefits for residents and commuters, a free public transport system would undoubtedly improve working conditions for bus drivers – and that’s something cities should be prepared to pay for.

Transit advocates urge New York governor to scrap Cuomo-Era rail project

“Have the pigs already started to fly?” US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) tweeted on January 15 of last year. “The Daily News, the NY Post and I actually agree on the same subject (AirTrain) on the same day! Someone is playing the numbers. On that day, both newspapers ran editorials agreeing with the AOC that a monorail project from LaGuardia Airport to the No.7 subway line in Queens was an unnecessary white elephant.

Anyone who played the numbers that day might want to replay them now, as the New York Post reports that transit advocates are now pushing Gov. Kathy Hochul to abandon the project, which his predecessor Andrew Cuomo backed.

The proposed 1.5-mile “Airtrain” monorail, priced at $ 2.1 billion, would operate on an elevated viaduct parallel to the Grand Central Parkway from the airport to Willets Point stations on 7 and Long Island Rail Road Port Washington Branch. Critics point out that the alignment requires passengers bound for Manhattan to head further east into Queens before reversing direction at Willets Point to head towards Manhattan.

A public transport advocate, Riders Alliance spokesman Danny Pearlstein, told the Post that the group he represents had an alternative on the table that could do the same job as the Airtrain for much less. Money: “We have a proposal dating back to 2015 for a The Q70 bus line, which would get people to the airport in a very short time and at little cost to the MTA and no cost to passengers.

The New York and New Jersey Port Authority defended the train in a statement that read: “The Federal Aviation Administration, based on a thorough independent review, has fully approved the AirTrain, which will create the first rail link. transportation to LaGuardia Airport. The opposition to rail transit that will take millions of cars off the streets and reduce greenhouse gases without touching a single private property during this time of climate crisis is simply untenable. The article notes, however, that the FAA’s review of the project concluded that it would actually be slower than driving from Manhattan to the airport.

Another reason the project could survive: Port Authority executive director Rick Cotton is appointed by Cuomo, as are most of its board members. The article quotes a source familiar with discussions about the future of Airtrain as saying that “Coton will push this project to its last breath”.

Hochul did not take a position for or against the project. Her spokesperson Hazel Crampton-Hayes told the Post: “Governor Hochul is committed to a world-class airport and transportation network, and she is working with the Port Authority, members of the community, elected officials and advocates to ensure transparency and strong engagement.

Golf carts: the future of urban mobility?

Currently, the fastest growing metropolitan area in the country is The Villages, the planned community of over 55 people in Florida designed with help from Imagineers at the Walt Disney Company in nearby Orlando. And an article in New York magazine’s Curbed argues that, whatever its strengths and weaknesses, The Villages is in fact leading the way in the future of individual urban mobility.

And the vehicle he uses to get there is the golf cart.

Golf carts – or “golf carts” as the villagers call them – provide basic mobility in the neighborhoods of the Villages. According to the article, some 60,000 golf carts, which residents can rent or buy at prices starting at $ 12,000, provide one-third of all trips made to villages.

The Curbed article highlights the many advantages offered by golf carts: “They are lightweight and low in emissions. They aren’t supposed to go faster than 20 mph, and they don’t kill a lot of people like cars do (although they do). Adopting slower, smaller vehicles is a major part of promoting a smoother, more pedestrian-friendly physical place, with mobility options for older Americans who are more at risk of dying in car crashes. , wherever they are. Their unreserved embrace by the Villages, on the surface, seems to be a prototype for Elder America, at least in places where the climate is mild.

But, the article continues, the embrace goes no further: villagers use golf carts as a supplement rather than a total replacement for their cars. To travel beyond their own neighborhood, villagers turn to the cars and SUVs they owned before settling there. Ryan Erisman, author of “Inside the Bubble: A Complete Guide to Florida’s Most Popular Community,” told Curbed, “Most people still have cars. They could come with two cars and upgrade to a car and a golf cart.

The reason cars are still needed: Villages lack public transportation, and the community of about 130,000 people spans 32 square miles, an area larger than Manhattan. And it was only this year that the first multi-family residential building opened at The Villages, a development that has raised concern among residents already annoyed by rising expectations for tee times at the 50 golf courses of the community.

The article highlights several other issues with The Villages, some of them stemming from its deliberate appeal to baby boomer nostalgia and others related to its severe lack of diversity. But, he notes, the country is faced with the need to welcome a “silver tsunami” of aging baby boomers who will want to be able to age in place while enjoying the same freedom of movement they had when. they were younger. At least in mild climates, and perhaps even seasonally in milder climates, golf carts could offer this freedom.

Do you know of a development that should appear in this column? Tweet with links to @MarketStEl using the hashtag #mobilecity.

Next City contributor Sandy Smith is the home and real estate editor at Philadelphia cream magazine. Over the years, his work has appeared in Hidden City Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Investigator and other local and regional publications. His interest in cities dates back to his youth in Kansas City, and his career in journalism and media relations dates back this far.

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