By Larry Penner
July 2018 marks the 54th anniversary of federal government support for public transportation.
The success of public transportation can be traced back to one of President Lyndon Johnson’s greatest accomplishments, which continues benefiting many Americans today. On July 9, 1964 he signed the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 into law. Subsequently, this has resulted in the investment over time of several hundred billion dollars into public transportation.
Millions of Americans, including many living in Queens County today, utilize various public transportation alternatives on a daily basis. They include local and express bus, ferry, jitney, light rail, subway and commuter rail services. All of these systems use less fuel and move far more people than conventional single-occupancy vehicles. Most of these systems are funded with your tax dollars, thanks to Johnson. Depending upon where you live, consider the public transportation options.
Fortunately, we have the MTA and its various operating agencies, including NYC Transit subway and bus, LIRR, Metro North Rail Road, Staten Island Rapid Transit Authority and MTA Bus. There is also New Jersey Transit, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New York City Departments of Transportation, Staten Island Ferry and Economic Development Corporation private ferries.
Using MTA Metrocards provides free transfers between the subway and bus. This has eliminated the old two-fare zones, making public transportation an even better bargain. Purchasing a monthly Long Island Rail Road or MTA subway/bus pass reduces the cost per ride and provides virtually unlimited trips.
Elected officials and government employees can turn in their taxpayer-funded vehicles and join the rest of us by using public transportation to get around town. In many cases, employers can offer transit checks, which help subsidize a portion of the costs. Utilize this and reap the benefits. It supports a cleaner environment.
The ability to travel from home to workplace, school, shopping, entertainment, medical sites and libraries is a factor when moving to a new neighborhood. Economically successful communities are not 100 percent dependent on automobiles as the sole means of mobility. Seniors, students, low- and middle-income people need these transportation alternatives.
Investment in public transportation today contributes to economic growth, employment and a stronger economy. Dollar for dollar, it is one of the best investments we can make.