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Election 2013

Thompson Puts Cars First in Transportation Platform

It looks like Bill Thompson didn't get the word about how well bike lanes and pedestrian plazas are polling.

Bill Thompson unveils his transportation platform this morning. Photo: ##http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/politics/2013/08/8532950/bill-thompson-unveils-car-focused-transportation-plan##Dana Rubinstein/Capital New York##

This morning, at a Staten Island bus depot that is most easily accessed by car, Thompson got in line behind Christine Quinn and Bill de Blasio, the other leading mayoral candidates, by unveiling his transportation platform. And man, is it a doozy.

"Of the three leading Democratic candidates for mayor, Thompson offered by far the most driver-friendly transportation vision for New York City," reports Capital New York’s Dana Rubinstein. "He mentioned pedestrians not at all."

Here are the salient points of Thompson's plan:

    • Parking: Thompson promises pay-by-phone parking meters, framing it as a way to reduce parking tickets. He also says he will work with churches to provide parking to businesses and residents during the week.
    • Tolls: Rubinstein reports that Thompson called for "toll equity." However, his website says he opposes "bridge tolls over the East and Harlem Rivers that would create hardship for working families." Rubinstein asked about the Move NY plan, which adds tolls to the East River bridges but lowers them where transit options aren't available. "I'm not prepared to adopt that," Thompson replied.
    • Bikes: Bicycling wasn't mentioned in Thompson's platform or speech, so Rubinstein asked him about it. "My greatest concern has been the lack of coordination with communities and the fact that they weren't involved in the planning," Thompson said. (Maybe he should go to a community board meeting sometime.) Thompson says he likes bike-share but, according to Rubinstein, "thinks some bike lanes are alright and others aren't."
    • CityTicket: Thompson would push to expand this MTA program, which charges $4 for weekend trips within city limits on Metro-North and LIRR, by allowing it on weekdays and lowering the price to cost the same as a MetroCard swipe.
    • Ferries: Thompson supports increased night and weekend Staten Island Ferry service and pledged to find funds to maintain service to the Rockaways.
    • Buses: Thompson promises "a true BRT system" to serve areas including Staten Island and eastern Queens. He also spoke about adding more express bus routes and restoring buses cut in 2010, Rubinstein said.
    • MTA Funding: Restoration of the commuter tax is high on Thompson's list, as is a weight-based vehicle registration surcharge that he estimates could raise $1 billion. Thompson has advocated these ideas, which would require state approval, since at least 2008.

Thompson's platform does not have a definitive street safety plank, saying only that "Thompson will ensure the safety of pedestrians, drivers and cyclists." At the event unveiling his transportation platform, Thompson received the endorsement of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 726.

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