2015-12-23 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Safety Measures

Dear Friends:

A day after Ovidio Jamarillo was killed by a hit-and-run driver, I asked the city to improve road and street safety measures in dangerous intersections, especially at Northern and Junction Boulevards where Ovidio tragically lost his life. Along with Assemblymembers Jeffrion Aubry, Francisco Moya and Michael DenDekker, we called for, among other things, the installation of cameras and better street lighting.

Today (December 17), along with Councilmember Julissa Ferreras-Copeland and Cristina Furlong of Make Queens Safer, we discussed measures that can be taken to improve the intersection with the city Department of Transportation, including the installation of a mobile speed camera. DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia said that her agency will work to install the speed camera by this Friday.

Among the recommendations I also made to DOT, I suggested the possibility of installing rumble strips to slow down cars as they approach heavily trafficked intersections.

In the meantime, police are searching for the driver of the black Toyota Camry who fled the scene after striking Ovidio, leaving him to die helplessly in the street. Last weekend, the police released a photo of a man they want to question, as this man was caught on camera getting out of the car that was involved in Ovidio’s death. It is my hope that the police catch the heartless driver, or that he or she turns him/herself in.

If you have any questions or need help, do not hesitate to stop by my office or to call us at 718-205-3881. Sincerely,

Jose Peralta
State Senator

LAGCC Achievements

Dear Friends,

I can hardly believe we’re at the end of Fall II. Students and faculty are finishing up finals and the important work being done at LaGuardia to open the doors of higher ed to all continues to be noticed by major media. We’ve had quite a year.

The CUNY Fatherhood Academy keeps getting attention, this time on the cover of Metro. The personal stories of how this amazing program empowers new fathers to simultaneously earn a high school equivalency degree and develop stellar parenting skills are truly remarkable.

“The Future of Faculty” event held on campus last month was a tremendous success: educators and policy makers from across the country gathered to discuss the centrality of faculty to learning and student success. Hechinger Report Editor-in-Chief Liz Willen attended as well, and her piece perfectly captures the grit, talent and dedication of our students who shared what they’d be able to do if two years of community college were free.

We made a big splash in broadcast media in November: I was delighted to discuss America’s College Promise on a well listened to radio show, and Assistant Dean Howard Wach was on WABC-TV’s Tiempo discussing our $3.2 million Mellon Foundation grant which will help Ph.D. students from the CUNY Graduate Center learn how to effectively instruct our population of low-income, immigrant students.

NY1 covered two LaGuardia events: the celebration of our award that will help create a Battle Buddy Center at LaGuardia for our student vets, as well as the stunning and smart portrait exhibit, on display at LaGuardia through the end of the year, by Photography program alumnus Ricardo Aca in response to Donald Trump’s statements about Mexicans in the US.

The CUNY Scholarships Supporting Diversity Conference hosted at LaGuardia this year was highlighted in The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine, and the New York Post quoted Bart Grachan, Director of Transfer Services in their article on top transfer tips for undergraduates.

I wish you and yours the merriest of holidays and all the best in 2016!

Sincerely,
Dr. Gail O. Mellow

Never A Free Lunch

To The Editor:

The proposal by the Riders Alliance, and supported by the Global Gateway Alliance, Regional Planning Association and Straphangers Campaign to convert the New York City Transit Q70 LaGuardia Airport bus from a standard $2.75 fare to free is pure fantasy. Why stop there. If you follow the same logic, why not also include the Q48 Flushing, Q72 Rego Park Junction Blvd. and M60 Manhattan to LaGuardia Airport bus routes? How about the Port Authority New York, New Jersey Jamaica Airtrain to Kennedy Airport along with the Q3 Farmers Blvd. 165th Street Jamaica Bus Terminal, Q10 Union Turnpike Lefferts Blvd. and B15 Marcus Garvey Blvd./New Lots Avenue bus routes to Kennddy Airport as well? They all forgot that TANSTAFL, “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch,” or in this case bus ride.

The costs of labor for drivers, including salary and benefits, along with fueling, washing, cleaning, and maintenance of equipment are major factors in determining the price of service. You also have to add depreciation over time for the life of the bus. The average cost of providing service on any bus route including the Q70 La Guardia Airport bus averages $100 dollars or more per hour.

MTA services continue to be one of the best bargains in town. Since the 1950s, the average cost of riding either the bus, subway or commuter rail has gone up at a lower rate than either the consumer price index or inflation. The MetroCard, introduced in 1996, affords a free transfer between bus and subway. Prior to this, riders had to pay two full fares. Purchasing either a weekly or monthly pass further reduces the cost per ride. Many employers offer transit checks, which pay even more of the costs.

An overwhelming majority of riders are either using a free subway to bus transfer, unlimited weekly or monthly MetroCard. Only a handful of riders actually pay a standalone $2.75 fare.

A far more pressing issue that these groups should be concerned about is how the State Legislature will find the $8.3 billion promised by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

These dollars would assist in bridging the $10.8 billion shortfall in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority proposed $28 billion 2015-2019 Five Year Capital Plan. The State Legislature will have to face this issue when reconvening in January 2016. Ditto for how the New York City Council who will have to find the $2.5 billion promised by Mayor Bill de Blasio toward bridging the balance of this shortfall.

The City Council may not deal with this until June 2016 as part of negotiations over the next municipal budget.

Most business, middle and upper middle class people, or anyone with heavy luggage is either going to continue driving to the airport, take a taxi, car service or Uber regardless of the Q70 bus fare, even if free. You will never see them traveling via the Long Island Rail Road to Woodside, the 7, E, F, M or R subway to 74th Street Roosevelt Avenue and transfering to the Q70 La Guardia Airport bus. It is wishful thinking at best.

In the end, it all comes down to the availability of increased funding for additional transportation service to serve residents of two-fare zones in the outer boroughs. Operating subsidies are required to increase the level of service and reduce the amount of time one waits for a bus on existing routes. Same for adding more off-peak, late night and weekend service.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

Honoring Brian Moore

To The Editor:

Recently the corner of 222nd Street and 92nd Avenue, outside of the 105th Precinct in Queens Village, was co-named “Detective 1st Grade Brian Moore Way.” Detective Moore was shot and killed in Queens Village while on duty. Here is an officer who gave his life for the City of New York and did protect and serve to the best of his ability and was not afraid to do the right thing. Mayor de Blasio said of him that, “Detective Brian Moore exemplified the best of our police force.” Of that I have no doubt. By the age of 25 he had made 150 arrests in five years and was killed in his prime. He was killed allegedly by a man named Blackwell who had no respect for authority and was possibly going to commit a crime. I would at this time like to applaud all those involved in bestowing this high honor and recognizing Detective Moore’s value as a police officer, but also as a man that cared for the welfare of others. In my book Detective Moore was a true role model for our youth of today. Let me also say in closing that “all life does matter.”

Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Glen Oaks Village

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