2002-12-18 / Editorials


Transit Pact Aids All New Yorkers

Although it is still somewhat unclear as to whether the Transport Workers Union Local 100 will ratify the agreement reached by Peter Kalikow, Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairperson, and Roger Toussaint, head of Local 100, city subways and buses are still running and millions of city commuters can get wherever they have to go. The possibility of a transit strike would appear to have receded.

There is no good time for a transit strike, whatever the calendar may say. Had a strike materialized, the city would have been dealt a crippling blow in almost every aspect of everyday life. At the outside, a strike would have cost the city upwards of $100 million—and that's not counting the visitors from around the country and the world who have many of the city's hotels 93 percent booked. December is a favorite month to visit the Big Apple, but without buses and subways to get around, many tourists would have cut their visits short or canceled them altogether, adding to the hemorrhage of red ink already draining city coffers.

December offers retailers a chance at least to break even if sales figures for the previous 11 months were less than spectacular. We encourage our readers to shop locally, but the strike would have restricted many Queens residents to making their purchases in stores which lie only walking distance away from home. Store owners throughout Queens would have suffered because their customers could not get to them.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg had declared he would bicycle to City Hall from his Upper East Side town house, a plan both ecologically and economically commendable. Unfortunately, for many Queens residents, pedal power is simply unfeasible, whether or not a transit strike had taken place. Someone who lives in Astoria and works in, say, Howard Beach or Forest Hills cannot spare the time for a lengthy bicycle excursion twice a day. Subways and buses are lifelines for many members of the Queens work force. Without an easily accessible means of getting to work some people would have had to give up their jobs altogether, doing their self-esteem and bank accounts and the city's wage base no good at all.

This city and the millions of hard-working men and women who live here did not need further insult, injury and inconvenience. The city faces a long, hard road out of its economic and psychological travails. A transit strike would have been no help. Even the threat of a strike has wrought havoc on Queens and all New York City. Now that the issue appears within reach of being settled, however, we can put the dispute behind us and focus on some of the other problems which beset us in the course of our daily lives.

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