MTA Response to Pokey: Traffic Congestion = “Vibrancy”

The MTA’s response to the annual Pokey Awards ceremony is always worth looking out for. Rather than using the publicity generated by the event to build political capital for some bus service improvement or another, the Transit Authority’s response falls somewhere between defensive and infuriated. This year’s statement is a doozy and reminiscent of Mayor Bloomberg’s famous remark, "We like traffic, it means economic activity, it means people coming here." Here’s what the MTA had to say:

The bus routes cited by the Straphangers’ report as the slowest in the city, along with many others, operate in conditions of severe traffic congestion. Slow and unreliable bus service is very much a product of the city’s vibrancy. Some routes must negotiate narrow streets while others serve heavily-traveled shopping areas. Some major routes even run past bridge and tunnel approaches, which are prone to traffic back-ups.

So, here’s a question: Which urban environment looks more vibrant to you? This typical Columbus Circle rush hour scene…

vibrancy_nyc_traffic2.jpg

Or this picture of a Friday afternoon rush hour that I snapped a couple of weeks ago on Copenhagen’s inner city pedestrian street, The Stroget…

vibrancy_stroget.jpg

Columbus Circle photo by Hidden City on Flickr

  • mike

    Exactly.

  • Pictures tell a thousand words. Copenhagen looks much more vibrant to me.

  • At least they actually came out and said it in black and white like that.

    The funny thing is that in a much larger space at Columbus Circle you have a small fraction of people as you do pictured in a much smaller place on the Stroget.

  • PSW

    vi·brant
    Pronunciation: vahy-bruhnt
    Function: adjective
    1 a (1) : oscillating or pulsating rapidly (2) : pulsating with life, vigor, or activity

    ’nuff said

    If Bloomberg really wants "more people coming here" then he should restrict car use and reapportion streets to favor bus riders, pedestrians and bicyclists.

  • Weren’t there serious objections from the merchants on the Stroget when they originally proposed closing it down to traffic? They were afraid they’d lose business…

    And now doesn’t it have the highest retail rents in Copenhagen with the most shoppers?

  • g

    Traffic creates “economic activity,” but little of it benefits the local economony. Higher gas use benefits oil companies, none of which are located in NYC. Wear and tear on cars benefits repair shops, few of which are located in Manhattan. Wear and tear on roads takes money out of the pockets of New Yorkers, few of whom drive.

    If the people got out of their cars and could spend more time in stores, buying from street vendors, etc., that would create economic activity with a local benefit. The reason people in cars get so frustrated with traffic is because it PREVENTS them from pursuing their desired activities.

  • AD

    Oh, it’s the narrow streets! C’mon guys, they should widen the streets. That would solve the problem.

  • AD

    g – right on. Exactly.

  • ddartley

    I just have to add another cheer for g’s well crafted, rousing rhetoric in #6!!

  • Nicolo Macchiavelli

    I went to a rubber chicken dinner tonight to benefit the Transit Museum. A Bush appointee to the FTA made the strongest statement yet heard in favor of congestion pricing, praising London and Copenhagen. Even made it sound like there would be consequences if NYC did not price congestion. Fucking amazing.

  • Arnold

    Copenhagen is like any typical city in Europe: beautiful but booooriiiing as hell. There are a few exceptions, I must admit…

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