Mayoral Contenders Talk Transit, Part 1: Tom Allon

Mayoral candidate and publishing exec Tom Allon. Photo: ##http://tomallonformayor.com/photos/##Tom Allon for Mayor##

Election Day is more than a year away, but the race to become the next mayor of New York City is well-underway. In the last two issues of its magazine, Reclaim, Transportation Alternatives has been asking the would-be mayors for their thoughts on transit (in the more recent interviews, one question about cycling was added). So far, TA has received responses from all of the major candidates except 2009 Democratic nominee Bill Thompson.

All this week, Streetsblog will be re-printing the candidates’ responses. Here are the answers TA received from Manhattan Media CEO and alphabetical frontrunner Tom Allon.

Q: What role does a well-funded public transit system play in New York City’s economic growth?

A: A well-funded transit system and well thought out alternative transit system is crucial to the city’s economic growth. We need to provide affordable and efficient mass transit for workers so that we can continue to attract immigrants and others from within the U.S. to come here to become New York taxpayers. We also need to push new ideas like more bike lanes, light rail and rapid transit bus routes, as well as more taxi medallions, to provide for the diverse needs of a growing population.

Q: What would you do as mayor to address transit deserts, which are locations where riders are faced with hour-plus commutes, multiple transfers or multi-fare rides?

A: We need to help those areas with rapid transit bus, bike share programs and cabs-on-call to help those in transit deserts. We also need to come up with cost discounts for those with multi-fare rides so that they can live in the city and afford to work here rather than move to the suburbs for easier commutes and lower taxes.

Q: When transit fares go up on 1/1/13, it will be the fifth fare hike since 2008. Do you think transit riders are paying their fair share, and is it time for elected officials to seriously consider new sources of revenue for public transit?

A: We are not getting our fair share. The costs of subway and bus rides has far outpaced inflation and has made our city less livable. The MTA has assets that it can use to raise other revenues—from land leasing to advertising opportunities to naming rights of subway stations and bus stops. We need to think creatively how to raise revenues while at the same time trying to figure out a way to lower fares.

  • Anonymous

    “We are not getting our fair share.” Fair share of what? Typical vacuous “answer.”

    “The costs of subway and bus rides has [sic] far outpaced inflation … ” Um, depends on the time period. Since 2008, sure. But measured over decades, uh-uh. Consider the 30-cent fare that took effect on Jan. 4, 1970. I believe the only discounts back then were free bus-subway transfers, which at most lowered the average cost per subway or bus ride to 25 cents. Today’s average, considering not just easier transfers but quantity discounts and unlimited farecards, is around $1.50, or six times as high. Which is exactly the rate of CPI inflation between Jan. 1970 and Jan. 2012 (37.8 vs. 226.7, with 1982-84=100). You could pick just about any point during 1950-1990 and find similarly that today’s actual average inflation-adjusted fare is no higher than way back when.

    “We need to think creatively how to raise revenues while
    at the same time trying to figure out a way to lower fares.” More talking through his hat. His menu of revenue measures — “from land
    leasing to advertising opportunities to naming rights of subway stations
    and bus stops” — is piddling, particularly vis-a-vis traffic pricing (which he did not mention).

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Typical vacuous ‘answer.'”

    Having read the whole series, the word “typical” applies.  Thanks to past deals and non-decisions, we are facing some nasty distributional issues in a situation of growing scarcity.  With the one advantage that (unlike in the 1970s) other parts of the country are facing similar if not worse problems.

    I want to hear about fairness, and how best to cope, in this context.  “We’re not getting our fair share” is nonsense without defining “we” and identifying the interests on the other end.  Otherwise, just another pol promising something for nothing.
     
     

  • bill b

    The subway fare was a nickel from 1880 to 1940 , those guys knew how to run a railroad . The NYC transit system should be free, they spend millions on metro card vending machines,  turnstiles , metro card support, token clerks , police to catch farebeaters and transit court .NYC can pay for this by sending less taxes to Albany. By the way is Tom going to take his free newspaper boxes from our crowded  sidewalks so we can have more room to walk ?

  • Larry Littlefield

    “The subway fare was a nickel from 1880 to 1940 , those guys knew how to run a railroad.”
    For the real impact of having the fare fall sharply relative to inflation (as between 1995 and 2002), read Under the Sidewalks Of New York.

    The private companies asked for an increase, then sued for an increase in a case that went to the Supreme Court.  All the while they disinvested in the system, and then walked away from the system when they didn’t get the increase.

    By the time they left the workers were underpaid and the system was in decline, after temporarily having been saved by the Great Depression (which allowed people to be paid less as prices fell) and WWII (which increased ridership).  The fare was doubled after the war, with the support of the TWU.  DOUBLED!

  • Shemp

    Who is Tom Allon? 

  • Janet

     “We need to provide affordable and efficient mass transit for workers so that we can continue to attract immigrants and others ….. to become New York taxpayers.”  Why the jump from “worker” to “Immigrant”? Is the implication that transit only serves certain classes?   How odd.

  • Katie b

    This article seemed really pointless, the Q and the A were too vague, everyone says the “right thing”. I”d prefer to hear specifics so I can learn the differences btween the candidates. Thank you

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