Liu, who is challenging State Senator Tony Avella in northeast Queens, explained that his six-point proposal would expand bus service in northeast Queens and ease eligibility requirements for Access-A-Ride services for seniors and the disabled.
He added that his plan would aim to prevent future commuter fare hikes, develop a “data-based” approach to better audits of the MTA, and strengthen penalties for attacks on transit workers.
“Access to safe, reliable and affordable public transit is the lifeblood of a strong economy and vibrant community,” Liu said. “For too long our area has been referred to as a transit desert, where commuters, families and seniors search endlessly for better transit options.
The former city comptroller said his plan would also enact a pilot program for a “Gas Tax Holiday,” in order to ease the burden of fuel costs.
“We need a transportation plan that delivers more to enable commuters to get to their jobs and back to their families, and to protect life-sustaining transit services for our seniors,” Liu said.
As far as support from his legislative counterparts, Liu said he has already been in contact with local congress members about the proposal for increasing mass transit in the region.
Both Liu and Assemblyman David Weprin said they would call for a restoration of the commuter tax to make this plan a reality.
“I have a bill for a 1 percent commuter tax, which a half of a percent would go to the MTA to address some of these issues and the other half to New York City,” Weprin said.
Weprin argued that transportation needs are not being met for nearly two million New Yorkers, and now is the time to begin thinking about expanding for the future of a growing population.
"We must increase the number of bus routes, especially into eastern Queens and neighborhoods inaccessible by train," Weprin said. “Public transportation must be a top investment priority for New York.”
Mark Henry, president and business agent of Amalgamated Transit Union Local No. 1056, which represents bus operators and mechanics in New York City Transit's Queens Bus Division, added that the region could use more attention to public transit.
“The MTA doesn’t seem to put Queens on the map when it comes to advocacy as far as their routes and what’s needed in this area,” he said.