Regional Plan Association Testimony to the Task Force on BQX

Good morning councilmembers and thank you for the opportunity to discuss the BQX project. My name is Maulin Mehta, and I am a Senior Associate at Regional Plan Association.

New York City is experiencing a transportation crisis. Fixing it will require new resources, better planning, and the right balance of transit solutions. Our crisis is the result of an aging system that needs investment, congested city streets, and a Manhattan-centric transit network that doesn’t take people where they want to go.

Our aging infrastructure, ongoing delays, and increasing capital costs continue to strain our transit system, while 40% of New Yorkers cannot walk to a subway station and limited ADA accessibility limits access even further.

This has caused an increase in private and for-hire vehicles clogging our streets and polluting our air. These factors have caused us to have some of the slowest bus speeds in the country, and between 2012 and 2017 average weekday bus ridership declined by 250,000 systemwide.

Over 50% of NYC job growth has been in the outer boroughs, yet improvements in outer borough transit have not kept pace. Right now, too many New Yorkers have to take circuitous routes from one borough to the next unless they have access to a car. Commute times for inter-borough travel outside of Manhattan can be over an hour long. Congestion pricing will help provide funding and reduce congestion, but doesn’t help connect the fastest-growing boroughs.

A project like the BQX is needed to connect areas of Brooklyn and Queens, spur job growth, and contribute to a more robust transit system that can accommodate a growing city particularly in the outer boroughs. These neighborhoods also deserve a comprehensive set of investments, such as implementation of RPA's proposed Triboro Line, a new passenger rail line on existing tracks between Brooklyn and the Bronx, more robust and reliable bus routes, discounted fares on LIRR trips within Brooklyn and Queens, implementation of Metro North access to Penn Station (Penn Access), and enhanced bike share. BQX is a vital part of a much needed outer borough transit strategy.

Many of these investments are called for in RPA’s Fourth Regional Plan. The full range of proposals can be found at www.fourthplan.org.

RPA looks forward to seeing what the EIS impact analysis shows and working to best meet community transit needs with an expanded and connected network for all New Yorkers.

Thank you for your time and as always we stand ready to be a resource as you think through this project.