Bingo game in Jackson Heights highlights everyday commuting problems — and pushes for congestion pricing

Courtesy of Riders Alliance

Winning this game of bingo is surely a losing proposition for Queens commuters.

With the April 1 state budget deadline looming, transit riders played a game on March 10 in Jackson Heights in which they collected horror stories from fellow riders about all of the different ways the subway and bus system have let them down and then completed game card for delivery to Queens representatives in the state legislature to build momentum for congestion pricing.

Activists with the grassroots Riders Alliance held #FixTheSubway Bingo” Sunday at the Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue station, filling their boards of common commuter headaches — including rerouted trains, overcrowded platforms and long wait times — before heading to Flushing and Forest Hills.

“I rely on public transportation every day to go either to school or work,” Riders Alliance member Fulton Hou of Little Neck said. “When the subways are delayed it affects my life, especially my commute to school. We have just a few weeks before our state representatives pass the state budget, and we’re here to say we have suffered enough bad commutes because of failing subway and bus systems.”

Congestion pricing would place a toll on cars and trucks entering Manhattan below 60th Street in a program projected to raise billions to modernize the transit system.

“Queens residents, students and commuters put up with a lot: slow and inconsistent buses, delayed and deteriorating subways, infrequent and expensive express buses and LIRR trains. We also have too many drivers, who make our streets unsafe and deadly for those who walk and bike to access transit and get around our neighborhoods,” Transportation Alternatives Queens Committee Chair Laura Shepard said. “Congestion pricing intelligently addresses these crises simultaneously. Reliable public transportation and safe streets are essential to a sustainable future in Queens, where people from all over the world, of all ages, abilities and economic means can access opportunities and prosperity.”

State Senator Jessica Ramos is on board with Riders Alliance after riding the 7 train for years.

“Our subways are in desperate need of repair,” she said. “We need to secure a congestion pricing plan in this year’s budget that will put revenue in a lockbox for repairs on our subways. I am committed to passing a congestion pricing plan to ensure our public transportation system works for working people.”

Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi agreed.

“All too often what should be a quick and easy commute ends up taking hours,” Hevesi said. “The time to improve our public transit system is long overdue, these improvements must include more reliable service and increased accessibility. Implementing congestion pricing is the best way to fund these improvements.”

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