Remember that time two Democratic presidential candidates had a nationally-televised debate in New York City and barely said anything about transit?
This week Bernie Sanders was endorsed by the Transport Workers Union and the Amalgamated Transit Union. Hillary Clinton, speaking in Manhattan, called transportation — referring to transit specifically — a “civil rights issue.” So you’d think the time had finally come for transit policy, and the millions of Americans who rely on buses and trains, to get some attention on the national stage.
But last night, transit policy got but a fleeting mention. When the topic of climate change came up, Sanders said the U.S. could create jobs by “rebuilding our rail system … our mass transit system.” That was it.
Nationally, the Democratic base is heavily concentrated in urban areas, and right now the candidates are vying for votes in the state with far and away the most transit riders. And yet there was no acknowledgment on stage of how transit can strengthen cities or reduce economic inequality, the dominant theme of the campaign.
Then again, when one candidate can’t swipe a MetroCard and the other apparently doesn’t know what a MetroCard is, it’s little wonder two “New Yorkers” would fail to say anything of substance about transit.