Mayoral Contenders Talk Transit, Part 1: Tom Allon

Mayoral candidate and publishing exec Tom Allon. Photo: 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.