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: ## 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.

  • Mark Walker

    Not one word about pedestrians in a car-free majority city? Not one word about the daily slaughter? My “anyone but” list just got a little longer.

  • Anonymous

    Hopefully there will be more transportation questions at the mayoral debate next week than there were at the Public Advocate debate last night.

  • Ben Kintisch

    Pretty lame.

  • Anxiously Awaiting Bikeshare

    Yeah, the problem is that at this point there is no one to vote for.

  • Ridgewoodian

    CityTicket expansion is a good idea. The vehicle surcharge might be good, too. Any other, more progressive, candidates advocating for them as well?

  • KeNYC2030

    To me, the key Thompson quote in Rubenstein’s piece is that he wants to “make the lives of motorists easier.” If you do that, of course, all you get is more motorists. The trend in cities the world over is to go in the opposite direction. What century is this guy living in?

  • Larry Littlefield

    Thompson’s political philosophy is neo-feudalism. It is the philosophy of New York’s political establishment in general, and the state legislature in particular.

    Under capitalism you get what you earn, at least in theory. Those who believe humans need an incentive to work and innovate can agree with that. Under socialism you get what you need, at least in theory. Those who believe we are all one human family agree with that.

    Under neo-feudalism those who have privileges and advantages get to keep them, perhaps get a little more when times are flush, and are exempted from sacrifice when things get tough. For those with real earnings and real needs, too bad.

  • krstrois

    Ideas that require state approval are a big hit with this year’s crop of candidates. Crowd pleasing for the uninformed base, and no risk of alienating the monied interests who know they’ll never come to pass.

  • Anonymous

    If this is neo-feudalism we’re living under now, “those who have privileges and advantages” are getting more now that things are tough. In fact, the “times get tough” part is used as the *argument* for them getting more.

    I think it’s worth noting that most contemporary historians reject the idea that there was ever a system that was cohesive enough to call “feudalism.” That would be hard to argue with the current economic regime, which is applied with a consistency people in the past could only dream of.

  • Jay Jay

    I took a video of a Bill Thompson billboard truck parked in the bike lane on Columbus Avenue.

  • Ian

    Disappointing. If it’s worth noting, he’s won the support of most of the city’s law enforcement labor unions, including those related to the MTA.

  • Brooklyn

    Don’t forget that Bill Thompson’s #1 fundraiser is Randy Mastro, the attorney leading the law suit to remove the Prospect Park West bike lane. Thompson is a nightmare. I do not love De Blasio but I am voting for him in the hope of a Quinn vs. De Blasio run-off. Both are better on livable streets.

  • Lisa Sladkus

    this is so helpful. thanks Streetsblog!

  • Steve O’Neill

    The century he’s living in is one where he’s 6-8 percentage points behind the 2 leaders in the polls and grasping at a constituency to propel himself into a runoff.


    He’s not going to win.


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