As parents of three, two with special needs, going to three different schools, my son and daughter-in-law have their hands full. And things have gotten worse since NYCHA relocated me from Harlem to Astoria.
Astoria Houses, where my sister and I live, isn’t accessible by subway – the nearest station is nearly a mile away. To get to Jaiden’s school in Harlem, I either have to take two buses or take the bus to the subway.
Although the Q18, Q19 and Q102 all run near my apartment, I have waited up to 45 minutes for a bus to show up. I even have had to reschedule my own doctor’s appointments because of delays on the buses.
As a senior citizen, I need to take care of myself, too, and there are thousands of people in this city like me, who depend on the transit system to take care of themselves and their families. We deserve a fully funded transit system that we can rely on the way that our families rely on us.
Putting the financial burden on people like me with fare hikes is not only unfair, but is not the solution. Fare hikes haven’t fixed our subway system all these years.
We need policies like congestion pricing, higher takes for the wealthy, taxes for people who keep a pied-a-terre, corporate taxes, and any other mechanism that can generate real funding to invest into the MTA.
I am not a financial expert, but I am one of the millions of New Yorkers who can’t afford to continue to suffer the consequences of a failing system.
Housing costs have put me far from my family because that’s what I can afford. I can’t afford to continue to be late to pick up Jaiden when I am paying for a service at an already expensive price.
Jaiden isn’t the only person who relies on me either. My sister suffers from dementia and needs my help in her day-to-day care. She can’t navigate from our new home in Queens to her doctor’s office in the Bronx by herself, and I can’t leave her at home alone without supervision.
Scheduling our appointments with plenty of time isn’t enough when delays happen more and more frequently these days. And when you have to take two trains and two buses, there’s too many opportunities for something to go wrong.
I feel anxious and desperate all the time, worrying that a bus or train delay will leave my grandson sitting at school for hours on end waiting for me and wondering if my sister is okay without me.
If our elected officials can’t understand that, maybe it’s time we find some who can.
Maria Beri is a member of New York Communities for Change (NYCC) and lives in the Astoria Houses in Queens.