Got a Question for Albany?

senate_chamber.jpgThe august New York State Senate. Photo: AP

For as long as Streetsblog has been covering the transportation reform beat, Albany has been a graveyard for progressive transportation legislation affecting New York City. Sheldon Silver and Assembly Democrats buried congestion pricing there in 2008. The State Senate poured cement shoes for bridge tolls last year, hobbling the attempt to provide the MTA with greater financial stability. Now our transit system is shrinking, and the fiscal disaster that the state has unleashed on bus and subway riders seems poised to grow worse.

While several good pieces of legislation can make it through the gauntlet this month, bills authorizing bus lane enforcement cameras, complete streets policies, and more effective legal protections for pedestrians and cyclists have all met untimely demises in recent legislative sessions as well.

So Streetsblog readers probably have a lot they’d like to ask their representatives in the state capitol, and the challengers they may face. With primaries for every seat in the Assembly and the State Senate coming up on September 14 (mark your calendars!), it’s time to start putting those questions to the people who want your vote. In July, Transportation Alternatives and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign will send a survey to every registered candidate in the MTA service region — the five boroughs plus seven downstate counties.

TA put out a candidate survey for NYC electoral contests last year — receiving answers from 73 contenders — but this is something of a first, I believe, for Albany races. If you’d like to help formulate the questions, TA and Tri-State want to hear your ideas.

Word is that they’re especially interested in what you’d like to ask Andrew Cuomo, Rick Lazio, Carl Paladino, and any Baldwin brother who might throw his hat into the governor’s race. Tops on my list would have to be: "How are you going to stop state government from crippling our transit system by plundering dedicated MTA taxes?"

What’s on yours?

  • TA: can you crowdsource the process of choosing/refining the questions? That might be cool, and might possibly make the process more efficient. (Unless it does the opposite…)

  • Larry Littlefield

    Over the next decade, an ever-rising share of the taxes, fares, tolls and fees New Yorkers pay will be going to past debts, pensions and other retirement cost, rather than public services and benefits they get today.

    As someone who has voted repeatedly to advance revenues from and defer costs to the future, and enhance the pay and benefits of those cashing in and moving out while cutting the benefits of future hires (they all have), how to you plan to convince younger and future New Yorkers that paying more and more for less and less is a fair deal?

    Who really benefitted from those past deals, and has a moral obligation to pay for them?

  • JSD

    I have a question for Albany.

    In what universe could people like you still be gainfully employed?

  • I meant crowdsource the suggested questions themselves, in case my comment above didn’t make sense. Like, post each on a site where people can vote them up or down and/or comment on them. (I suppose I could have just said that the first time)

  • Shemp

    TSTC has been surveying legislators for quite a while – for example:

  • Kate Slevin

    Hi Streetsblog,

    One small correction, as pointed out by Shemp– we surveyed all of the Long Island candidates for state office in 2008, so this isn’t a “first for Albany races,” as you note.

  • I have a question for our state legislators: How can you stand to look at yourself in the mirror?


City Council to Albany: NYC Wants Bus Lanes That Work

Yesterday the New York City Council voted 46-4 to keep dedicated bus lanes free of traffic using camera enforcement. The measure, known as a home rule message, is a necessary step before state legislation can authorize a bus cam program. Attention now turns to Albany, where the bill faces critical votes in both the Assembly […]

Quinn and Vacca Urge City Council Support for Bus Cameras

New York City’s plans for dedicated bus lanes, as proposed for the Nostrand Avenue corridor in Brooklyn, depend on Albany’s willingness to allow camera enforcement. Image: NYCDOT City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and transportation committee chair Jimmy Vacca gave better service for New York City bus riders a boost yesterday, speaking in favor of bus […]

Albany Update: Will Any Transpo Bills Make It Out Alive?

This year’s legislative session is rapidly coming to a close in Albany. With the state legislature wrapping up its regularly scheduled official business on June 20, the Capitol is entering a period of intense activity as legislators and lobbyists make a final push for their priorities. Albany has some big items on its agenda this […]

Double-Take Time: Bus Cam Bill Clears Assembly Transpo Committee

You read that right. Don’t celebrate just yet, but legislation authorizing the use of camera enforcement to keep New York City bus lanes clear of traffic — a.k.a. the bus cam bill — just cleared the Assembly Transportation Committee. Sheldon Silver and David Gantt. While it might seem sort of pathetic to tout a committee […]