Quinn’s Policy Book Skews Toward Transpo Issues the Mayor Can’t Control

Slowly, the major mayoral candidates are fleshing out their platforms, including their positions on transportation issues. Last month, Bill de Blasio used his policy book to stake out street safety goals. This morning, Anthony Weiner stumped for a bike commuter subsidy he proposed in April. Last week, Christine Quinn released her own policy book, in which she adds some new information about her previously-announced policy goals.

As with many of the mayoral candidates, some of Quinn’s key transportation promises are about things the mayor does not control, like MTA commuter rail investments. Her planks on bus improvements and pedestrian safety fit better with a mayoral policy platform. However, her policy book does not discuss the expansion of bike lanes, public plazas, or bike-share, all of which are up to City Hall.

Before getting to campaign promises, the document provides an overview of legislation that passed during Quinn’s tenure as City Council speaker. She trumpets her support for congestion pricing in 2009, the passage of the Bicycle Access Bill, laws requiring NYPD to make crash data public, legislation targeting commercial cyclists and e-bikes, and laws mandating DOT data collection and consultation with community boards and other agencies.

Quinn also highlights her record of “improving parking for city drivers,” with nine bullet points devoted to things such as five-minute grace periods at parking meters, the elimination of “humiliating” stickers for alternate-side violators, and the creation of parking passes for clergy. She does not discuss expanding PARK Smart meter reforms or eliminating off-street parking requirements.

The East River Ferry features prominently; Quinn wants to expand the heavily-subsidized service north to Roosevelt Island, Queens, and the Bronx, and south to Atlantic Avenue and Red Hook.

Quinn’s top goal is for all one-way commutes for city residents to clock in under 60 minutes. To accomplish this, Quinn says she would make “targeted investments in the boroughs outside Manhattan,” but her policy book does not say what those investments might be. It does, however, promise ten new Select Bus Service routes in four years, and the goal of SBS expansion is one thing the mayor can actually deliver on by setting aside the street space for dedicated bus lanes. The route Quinn says she would start with, though, is Staten Island’s North Shore, which would not use city streets, for the most part. The MTA is currently planning a bus rapid transit project for that route, mainly on what used to be an elevated rail right-of-way.

Another big-vision goal — reducing traffic fatalities 50 percent by 2021 – is something the mayor can influence, and the policy book reiterates Quinn’s pledge to set up a multi-agency task force to tackle traffic violence.

The policy book also contains some new detail about how Quinn proposes to increase city control of the MTA. She says the mayor should appoint a majority of board members and the head of New York City Transit, while the governor would continue to appoint the MTA’s chair and CEO. In addition to being a political longshot, this proposal doesn’t give the city the ability to end Albany transit raids, or to gain more say over the MTA’s capital spending, which is determined by a separate board composed of four appointees — only one of which is chosen by the mayor.

Quinn calls for the installation of countdown clocks outside subway stations and more bike parking, especially at transit hubs. She also endorses the Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel, a project championed by U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler that aims to reduce truck traffic, and Penn Station Access, a project already being planned by the MTA to build new train stations in the Bronx and bring Metro-North trains to Penn Station once some LIRR trains are diverted to Grand Central Terminal.