This weekend’s twitter stream was filled with rants and confusion about the state of the transport network in the Greenpoint/Willamsburg, not to mention concern about the G train extension to Park Slope becoming extinct (to sign the petition against that outcome, go here).
While the MTA has promised this will be the last weekend closure of the L train for the year, the fact that both the 7 and the L were down at the same time really made me think about the overall situation. (To illustrate the impact, my beloved Java Cars in Greenpoint were quoting 10 minutes wait-time rather than 3 minutes - that is a significant change!!)
Just over a week ago, I attended an event in DUMBO run by Charlie O’Donnell of Brooklyn Bridge Ventures (Brooklyn’s first VC fund). In his words, it was a “roundtable discussion between Brooklyn innovation community stakeholders on how to make this side of the river a better place to create, build businesses and grow”. Unsurprisingly, transport was one of the key bug-bears that attendees brought up - both from an inter and intra Brooklyn perspective. I will admit to a love of the B62 bus (it goes directly from Greenpoint to DUMBO) but, it ain’t quick at up to an hour during rush hour time.
So, I wanted to share a few thoughts on this topic with you:
1. East River Ferry
This has the potential to be one of the best things to happen to public transport between Manhattan and Brooklyn (and from North Brooklyn to DUMBO) in years. Remember when it launched and they offered free rides - it was PACKED! Who doesn’t want to travel to and from work with the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline? But, let’s be honest - $4 a ride is expensive ($5 if you have a bike).
It should have been packed again this weekend with the L and the 7 out of commission but it wasn’t (at least, not on Sunday when I was on it). I reckon a simple drop of $1 of the fare price would make it a slightly more costly, but well-worth-it, alternative to the dirty subway (which is now $2.50 for a single). MORE PASSENGERS = MORE MONEY!
I really enjoy cycling but I frankly detest cycling through most of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Granted, this city is doing way more than most to improve the lives of cyclists but there is more to do.
Firstly, while generally fantastic news, the current proposed bike rental program, per the Brooklyn Paper, “omitted bike kiosks east of Bushwick Avenue and McGuinness Boulevard, where an estimated 30,000 of transit-starved residents live, according to 2010 Census data.” If you want to suggest a bike share station location - tell the DOT via this link.
Secondly, drivers are often way too aggressive with cyclists and there are still insufficient, safe bike lanes. With the bike rental program imminent, the Police and Mayor need to crackdown on unsafe driving to ensure that the new wave of cyclists can enjoy this method of transport.
And, maybe the East River Ferry can drop it’s bike carry-on charge from $1 to $0.50? :-)
3. The Subways
I recognize that there is no magic pot of cash to suddenly manifest the world’s most super-duper subway system! But, the current efforts of the MTA to articulate what is down for repairs when are bordering on useless. The posters are prettier but they may as well be written in a long-lost language. I recall a Tweet from local “developer, startup maven, blogger, startupbus alum” Mike Caprio about how “somebody needs to make a visualization of how much of the damn subway is not running at any given time.”
Sounds great right? So, who’s stepping up to do that?
So, there’s my rant - not as many solutions as I’d like to have but hopefully some food for thought. Get talking, get tweeting and get signing petitions.