By Amanda Weston
Amazon's decision to bring an HQ2 to Queens, N.Y., was met by considerable backlash. According to the director of the city's Riders Alliance, the frustration is largely about the subway's reliability ー or lack thereof.
"We have enough space on our trains, but they're not reliable," Danny Pearlstein, policy and communications director of the Riders Alliance, told Cheddar Wednesday.
To Pearlstein, many riders are thinking about the subway's much more functional past.
"So when we hear that Amazon ($AMZN) is coming to New York because of our unparalleled public services, we're thinking of a time in the golden age when the subway operated well," he said. "Service has really plummeted in the last several years and what the system needs is a major capital infusion to get it back running reliably again."
Pearlstein pointed out that Long Island City in New York City's Queens borough has access to several subway lines and is at the intersection of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. But the impending shutdown of the L train will bring "a crush of riders" to the area.
"It's not so much that the trains can't handle the influx, it's that they can't handle what they have now sometimes and no one knows exactly when that is," Pearlstein said. "And so everyone's anxious. Everyone's padding their schedules with extra time, and people are literally losing countless hours with work, with family, and friends because of all the time they have to devote to the subway's unreliability."
The director said that many resent an incredibly wealthy company getting billions of dollars in incentives from the city and state. Meanwhile, the subway system needs more funding to function.
The same day a snowstorm slammed New York transportation to a halt, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced it was facing a dire budget crisis.
Pearlstein urged New Yorkers to get involved in the fight for subway funding.
"We're asking residents to call their legislators," Pearlstein said. "Tell them to fix the subway. Tell them transit is something we all rely on. Whether or not we use it, we all rely on the fact that millions of people get around that way. Amazon is counting on that, and the rest of business in New York does too."
As Pearlstein explained, "a poorly functioning transit system means extra traffic."
"Any time we leave the subway and take some other mode of transportation it clogs the streets, it costs a lot of extra money, it wastes people's time," Pearlstein said. "Really, I think the best way for people around the country to understand is that literally half the people in New York get around by subway for all their needs, literally. And if those half can't rely on that, the city grinds to a halt and the state grinds to a halt."
For full interview click here.