Interview: Would-Be Mayor Scott Stringer Loves Busways, Hates Placards, and Wants an Affordable City

This issue of Reclaim is about the peril and potential of the city’s aging highways. Looking at the BQE as an example, can you talk us through your plan?

The history of this is that the city basically had a “Robert Moses” concept of what a new BQE would look like — the new BQE would be the same as the old BQE. But if we’re really going to think about changing the car culture, breaking the car culture, the agenda should not be about adding lanes but reducing lanes, adding park space, and transportation alternatives.

Bus ridership is down since Uber and Lyft brought in for-hire vehicles. What steps would you take to turn that around?

We need dedicated bus lanes, and we need elected officials to get on board what it means for dedicated bus lanes.

Look at 14th Street. People said to me, “Why are you the only citywide elected official that came out in support?” It is because I’m not putting my finger in the air, looking which way the wind is blowing, saying that I kind of like it but I don’t want to commit to it — that’s political speak.

What will transportation in New York City look like in 10 years?

We need to have an urgency to our planning and we have to be specific, neighborhood by neighborhood, about how to get there. Ten years from now we should not be having the same conversation about the slow pace of change. We should take chances with big ideas and we should try to do big things.

The busway on 14th Street was a big idea. There are a lot of those kinds of ideas that should be implemented right now to build the ultimate sustainable city.

If New York does this, then we will fundamentally change the planet. Let’s get the bureaucrats out of the way. Let’s go back to communities. Let’s build partnerships with community-based organizations, bring the best and brightest into city government, and launch the next big idea that will be the hallmark of New York.

Read the full interview here.