Transit expert contradicts himself


To the editor:

(re: “Still need change for subways,” July 8)

Please bear in mind that I do not claim to be an expert in transit or urban planning.

But Larry Penner says “there are still other outstanding issues to be resolved before most of the 5 million-plus pre-COVID-19 ridership will return. Many former riders will continue telecommuting full- or part-time, and may never come back.”

How in the name of common sense does the author feel that can be controlled? How can private companies be told not to have workers telecommute? Especially coming from an author who has taken decidedly Libertarian stances on issues?

The author states “trade in all the former token booth employees who serve as ‘station ambassadors’ to help pay for increasing police protection in our subways.”

He makes it sound like a car transaction: “Here’s a 1971 token booth clerk for a 1975 police officer.”

The author seems to ignore the fact that police officers and token booth clerks are not paid by the same employer.

What does the author propose to do with the token booth clerks? Does the author also not understand the fact that they serve as more than “station ambassadors”?

They can serve as deterrents to crime, call the police, call for help for a medically distressed rider, assist a passenger with a malfunctioning MetroCard.

The author goes on to state “conductors should try and refrain from closing the doors while riders attempt to cross the platform attempting transfers from a local to the express train. If asked, the city’s sanitation department would consider doing the same on the street adjacent to subway station entrances.”

Does the author not understand that the conductors are closing the doors upon the orders of the control tower? What in the name of common sense does this have to do with riders boarding the bus above ground?

The author goes on to say “here is one way to pay for all of the above, which would benefit most of the 5 million pre-COVID ridership: Do not initiate any new system expansion projects — such as the $6.9 billion Second Avenue subway second phase, or the $1.5 billion Metro-North Bronx east Penn Station access projects — until all of the above is accomplished.”

But at the same time, in an opinion piece published in Mass Transit magazine, the author states “why not extend the New York City Transit No. 6 subway line beyond the Pelham Bay Park station terminal to directly into Co-op City? Thousands of Co-op City residents could benefit by a seamless subway ride versus having a transfer from a bus to subway.”

First of all, the author makes a project of this magnitude sound as easy as drawing a glass of water from the sink.

But aside from this, what is it? Extend the Pelham Bay line to Co-op City? Or wait until the author’s aforementioned suggestions are implemented?

Doesn’t the author pay the slightest bit of attention to his opinion pieces? How is it that for the 10 percent of his opinion pieces that hit the nail on the head, that 90 percent of them contradict each other — sometimes within each other — or are utterly ludicrous?

Nat Weiner

Have an opinion? Share your thoughts as a letter to the editor. Make your submission to letters@riverdalepress.com. Please include your full name, phone number (for verification purposes only), and home address (which will not be published). The Riverdale Press maintains an open submission policy, and stated opinions do not necessarily represent the publication.
Nat Weiner,