Priority Number One Under Joe Lhota’s DOT: Sync the Stop Lights

On his radio show this morning, John Gambling asked Joe Lhota what he thinks about congestion pricing and transportation issues generally. Lhota spent the next three minutes (starting at 8:25) explaining that under his administration, DOT would focus on its “core competency.” Bus lanes didn’t make the cut. Bikes? Forget about it.

You could be forgiven for thinking this man never ran the nation's largest transit system. Photo: MTA/Flickr

“You’ve got to ask yourself, what is the core mission, and are you doing it?” Lhota said. “There are tons of things that we need to do to reduce traffic,” he said, “before we get to the draconian stage of congestion pricing.”

Lhota then listed three priorities for his DOT commissioner. First, sync traffic lights to improve the flow of traffic. Second, focus on pedestrian safety. Third, keep the streets in a state of good repair. At least walking is in there somewhere.

He also repeated a campaign promise from the primaries to build park-and-ride lots for suburban commuters at the ends of subway lines in Queens and the Bronx, and said he would promote off-peak truck deliveries. Lhota has previously bashed bike-share planning and said he would reevaluate the city’s plazas and consider removing bike lanes, but didn’t talk about those issues on Gambling’s show this morning. Nor did the former MTA chair mention bus improvements in his transportation vision.

While it was good to hear Lhota talk about pedestrian safety, however briefly, he hasn’t put forward any ideas about how to, as he said, “keep these numbers down.” For someone who used to run the nation’s largest transit system, Lhota’s first general-election foray into transportation policy was a disappointing one. He still has some time to take advice from Nicole Gelinas.