2016-02-24 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Better, Cheaper Than BQX

To The Editor:

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans for a streetcar line that would connect Brooklyn and Queens, running along the East River. The proposal is causing some trepidation even among transit advocates.

The $2.5 billion, 12-mile-per-hour streetcar recently proposed by the mayor is a major concern for commuters who drive. This streetcar idea reminds us of the proposed Select Bus Service for Woodhaven Boulevard. Combined, both plans stand to cost the public almost $3 billion yet may leave our roads in worse condition than they are now.

Mike Scala, Vice President of QPTC, stated, “We favor more transit options. We want to learn more about this plan. Will we lose lanes of traffic, consequently causing more congestion? Is it worthwhile to make this investment now, when projects like QueensRail, serving areas that more urgently need transportation improvements, remain unfunded?”

The QueensRail idea advocated by the committee involves utilizing the existing right of way of the former Rockaway Beach branch of the Long Island Rail Road, as opposed to spending more money to build new infrastructure from scratch.

Allan Rosen, QPTC member and former Director of Bus Planning for MTA New York City Transit, offered, “If the mayor really wants to help improve transportation in New York City without breaking the bank, we have some commonsense suggestions for him:

1. We need a state law requiring cars to give the right of way to buses leaving a bus stop, which would save more time than Select Bus Service since it would apply to all routes.

2. Rebuild railway or busway transportation on existing rights of way that will not negatively affect our already clogged roads. QueensRail will connect commuters with the rest of the borough and is a textbook example of a public asset that is going to waste because of political pressure by special interests.

3. Better use of BusTime technology to improve on-time performance and less reliance on “Next Bus Please,” which is overused.

4. Consideration of true demand in determining bus frequencies. That would include those using vans and car services because buses are too crowded or inconvenient.

QPTC Webmaster Eugene Falik noted, “The Queens Public Transit Committee is in favor of anything that improves transportation for Queens and the region but we feel that there is not enough information available to evaluate the mayor’s proposal for a Brooklyn-Queens streetcar along the East River waterfront at this time.” He added, “We believe it might be more appropriate to experiment with an inexpensive – compared to the $2.5 billion streetcar – bus along the proposed route before building fixed rail tracks into the pavement. Based on the available information, we believe that $2.5 billion could be better spent on the QueensRail implementation, which would only cost between $500 and 700 million, and investigating the Triboro RX connecting Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx via existing, inactive rail tracks and the NY Connecting Railroad.”

If we do not put more pressure on our local elected representatives we will continue to see our transportation costs rise along with our commuting time.

Those who want to help improve transportation options for their families are encouraged to visit QPTC.org.

Philip McManus
President, Queens Public Transit

Calling All Entrepreneurs!

To The Editor:

We didn’t serve reindeer meatballs during our first ever Flagship Client Reception on January 28, but I was offered some recently (more on that later). We offered wine, cheese, and brownies to some of the business clients whom we’ve helped over the years.

They came to us with an idea, and usually the idea was all they had. They needed advice, a plan, and funds to turn their idea into reality. Each client participated in one or more QEDC service: business counseling; the Entrepreneur Assistance Program; the StartUP! Business Plan Competition; the Entrepreneur Space. All did the research and planning it takes to get a small business off the ground. And all are succeeding. Their entities – Pa-Nash Eurosoul Restaurant and Lounge, Astoria Distilling Company, Better Speech Now, 8 Bit Bakeshop, Bonne Fete Bakery, Bundts NYC, Sena Consulting, Birth 1st, and Tom Cookery – are doing well.

We like to show off our Flagship Clients. They are role models for others thinking about taking the plunge into the choppy waters of entrepreneurship. Many came to New York City with aspirations of realizing the American Dream. They found the way to our door, and we’re honored to help them.

One thing each Flagship Client needed was money. Despite late night TV ads claiming the government wants to give you cash to start your business (the only ones making money on those schemes are the slick-talking advertorial hosts), amassing seed funds is a daunting challenge. Not anymore. In partnership with Signature Bank, QEDC is again offering the First Time Investor Program. Set to begin on March 15 at the E-Space, this is an eight-week training course during which participants review various aspects of financial literacy. Those who are eligible can receive matching funds of up to $750 to open an investment account.

Speaking of small businesses, if you are reading this message soon after receiving it, I’m in Lapland. (Yes, the place of snow and ice where reindeer frolick before they are processed into meatballs.) I’m here for a rather wacky sporting event. After the rigors of friendly competition recently, we repaired to the Royal Bamboo Restaurant in of all places, northern Scandinavia. Here, at a latitude of 64 degrees, I found myself in an Indian restaurant eating poori and saag paneer. It just goes to show you that even the small Swedish village of Skelleftea (population 32,775) is truly global...or the owners got lost on their way to Jackson Heights.

Seth Bornstein
Executive Director, QEDC

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