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BREAKOUT SESSION #2: Filling the Gap in the Transit Map: Tackling the Two-Fare Zone and Transportation

Brodie Enoch reminded the crowd that transit deserts are not only an outer borough problem, but also a problem in parts of Upper Manhattan as well. Elena Conte of the Pratt Center stated that certain populations, such as the elderly, are more vulnerable to impacts of transit deserts and need better access to accessible bus lines, even if they live near subway stations, since many stations are inaccessible. Jonathan Bowles of the Center for an Urban Future noted that the transit network is Manhattan-centricmeaning that it is designed to ensure access to the Midtown and Downtown central business districts. In reality, Bowles said, the City now has job centers throughout the five boroughs and we need to think more about interborough connectivity. In addition, Bowles stated that investing in building out our transit network will make the Citys more affordable neighborhoods more accessible. Due in part to the enormous expense of expanding the subway network, we have seen a growing phenomenon of people taking buses to the terminal stops of subway lines and entering the system at those points. For instance, the Flushing-Main Street station on the 7 line has seen a huge growth in the last ten years. Tamisha Chavis, a community organizer from Southeast Queens, spoke of the importance of community pressure on DOT/MTA to ensure continued access to the network. The panel had a variety of possible solutions to the problem of transit deserts

o Joe Meyer, the CEO of HopStop, described how technology could help fill the information gap about transit options and guide people to the most direct route. o Meyer also expressed skepticism about public construction and said that private industries have to step in to provide reliable and affordable transportation. Indeed, some in the audience expressed support for the TLCs pilot program of dollar vans o Some in the audience also called on the State/City to dissolve the MTA and move to a different model of transit completely. TAKEAWAY: Transit deserts reflect a system that was drafted in 1900 and finds itself under financial pressure in the early part of the 21st century. In constructing a five-borough blueprint for the future, we must not only think about linking historic business districts in Manhattan to the outer boroughs. Rather, we must stimulate new centers of job creation in the outer boroughs and link the transit network to those emerging neighborhoods. Given the expense of subway construction, expanding the network will largely be done via buses, perhaps with a private sector component.