“The heart of the problem is that the Bronxites can move north and south and directly to Manhattan, but they can not move across The Bronx and through the outer neighborhoods with ease.”
In New York City, transportation policy is painfully clear. The outer city districts are not prioritized for efficient and accessible transportation options, while Manhattan has several train lines that can take you almost anywhere you go. New York City’s Manhattan – centered transit system is centuries old, and for the sake of the majority of our population and our local economies, we can not continue to build transit systems this way.
This year, two new transit lines have been proposed to connect and create more access between the outer suburbs, Penn Access and Interborough Express. The governor’s leadership in prioritizing the modernization of our transit system is revolutionary. The historical initiative of both projects marks a new beginning for transversal transport. Penn Access creates a new opportunity for nearly 250,000 residents to halve their commute, and the Interborough Express will be able to service more than 900,000 riders between Brooklyn and Queens.
These new lines were conceived to provide transit options to the outer neighborhoods, but The Bronx is excluded from The Interborough Express. While both lines create brand new trains that all neighborhoods will benefit greatly from, I would point out that both of these projects (Interborough Express and Penn Access) have not actually answered the main problem the Bronxites have – which commute east to west effectively.
Getting more transit access is not the only problem we need to solve. The neighborhoods in my borough and throughout the borough need quick fixes on decades of non-existent transit infrastructure in the Bronx. While both initiatives bring public transportation to areas that have long been understaffed, I need to emphasize the true needs of our society. As someone who was born and raised in my own district, I feel these struggles on my own.
The heart of the problem is that the Bronxites can move north and south and directly to Manhattan, but they can not easily move across the Bronx and through the outer neighborhoods. To get from Highbridge to Soundview by public transport, for example, you have to take at least two different trains and a bus for almost an hour—on a good day-just to get to a neighborhood that is only three miles away. By comparison, it only takes about 18 minutes to travel three miles from City Hall to the Empire State Building.
Efficient transportation options can change lives by giving more time back to working families to be at home instead of on several different crowded trains / buses / cars. Adequate transit options reduce commuting times and improve everyone’s daily lives. If we are to build these historic new trains, let’s build new trains that do new things to prioritize the Bronxites’ quality of life.
While the vital work that this administration has begun through the Penn Station Access Project is extraordinary, the Bronx’s transit access issues do not end with a faster travel time to Penn Station. Expanding the Interborough Express to the Bronx would be transformative for our residents, many of whom live in some of the most transit-hungry neighborhoods in the city. Below are simple recommendations for Gov. Hochul and the MTA on how the existing Interborough Express plan could deliver exactly what the outlying urban communities have needed for decades.
There are several proposed proposals to increase transit access in the Bronx that I believe should be prioritized. The Regional Plan Association’s Triboro Line – the basis of the Interborough Express – adds another eight stops, with two in Queens and six in The Bronx. Although the Triboro line has only been approved for two-thirds, I would urge Gov. Hochul and MTA to strongly consider adding one more to two stops.
The first priority of stops to be added to the Interborough Express from the Triboro Line is one at 149th Street and 3rd Avenue. By having only this one stop in The Bronx connecting to Brooklyn and Queens, we were able to grow and invest in the economies of our outer neighborhoods. Currently, the walk from 149th Street to Yankee Stadium takes about 30 minutes or requires multiple transfers that add extra cost. If we extended the Interborough Express just one more stop, past 149th and 3rd Avenue just to Yankee Stadium, we could ease both time and cost for riders and bring them closer to everyone’s favorite baseball team.
As the Interborough Express is currently outlined, there is no inclusion of The Bronx, Randall’s Island or Northern Queens stops listed in the Triboro Line. With budget and construction in mind, if we could only pick one stop out of the extensive line Triboro offers, I would go straight to 149th Street from Jackson Heights, which is the last stop on the proposed Interborough Express.
As we prepare for the construction of these new trains, we need to look at ways we can be more inclusive for our neighbors, not only in the sense of transit accessibility, but also accessibility for the disabled. It is more important than ever to ensure that we build infrastructure that everyone can use, such as ensuring 100 percent ADA and audiovisual compliance. I’m so excited about what The Bronx can get out of these two new transit plans in the coming years. I would like to thank the Governor for her leadership in prioritizing the historic and necessary transformation of our city’s transit system.
Let’s work together to do more for The Bronx.
Councilwoman Amanda Farías represents District 18 of the city, which includes Soundview, Castle Hill, Parkchester, Clason Point and Harding Park.