March 10, 2020 By Allie Griffin
Astoria Council Member Costa Constantinides unveiled a plan today to improve Queens transportation, as part of his campaign for borough president.
The candidate proposed adding protected bike lanes and busways, as well as giving borough presidents an appointee on the MTA board — an early campaign selling point — and pushing the MTA to reopen the Elmhurst Long Island Rail Road station.
The plan’s release comes on the heels of an endorsement Constantinides earned from Streets PAC, a political action committee dedicated to improving street safety for pedestrians and cyclists as well as transportation options.
“We believe unequivocally that Costa Constantinides is the best choice for Queens voters concerned about safer streets and better public transportation,” Streets PAC said in a statement.
If elected on the March 24 special election, Constantinides said he would introduce a number of measures to improve public transportation options and keep pedestrians safe on Queens streets.
Taking inspiration from Manhattan’s 14th Street busway, Constantinides would pilot an east-to-west and a north-to-south busway route to see whether busways are viable in the borough as an alternative to personal vehicles.
Constantinides is also calling for 75 miles of protected bike lanes in Queens in 2021.
He also said he would push the MTA to reopen the Elmhurst LIRR station, which was closed 35 years ago because of low ridership numbers.
- In order to put pressure on the MTA, Constantinides has proposed giving borough presidents an appointee on the MTA board.
- In January, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas and State Senator Andrew Gounardes of Brooklyn picked up on Constantinides’ call and introduced a bill to give each borough a dedicated seat on the board.
The 16 MTA board members decide on MTA policy, the authority’s budget and fare increases.
Critics of the board say the current membership gives a larger share of votes to people who live outside New York City, while the vast majority of people who ride MTA buses and subways live within the five boroughs.
The mayor gets to appoint just four members to the board and there is nothing that dictates where each comes from within the city. Meanwhile, the state gets six appointees and Westchester, Suffolk and Nassau counties each get one appointee — all of whom have a full vote. The upstate counties of Dutchess, Putnam, Rockland and Orange split one combined vote.