Reprinted “Miele’s Musing” from Armand Miele’s book “Born Minus”
What are we waiting for?
From Rockland County to JFK Airport, with traffic, used to take no more than 35 minutes. Today with roads clogged by commuter traffic it takes close to two hours. Imagine the waste and cost for fuel and tolls, the work time lost; it must come into the billions of dollars. The aggravation, road rage, accidents, you drivers know the rest.
We also see these great walls being built, costing millions of dollars, only to become covered in graffiti. They are supposed to remove the noise and pollution from the homes built near the highways, never mind that these roads were in place for more than forty years before the houses were built near them. Recent studies showed that although these walls do remove the noise and pollution next to the thruways, guess what, it is carried over the walls to the homes far from the thruway. Another case of not in my back yard, give it to some one else.
Mass transit worked great for many years, going back to the time of trolley cars. During the daytime they would come almost every five minutes, going all different directions in the city. You could also get a free transfer to go in a different direction. This got ruined when the then-Mayor (I’m sure there was lots of money involved) listened to the money people who just thought of themselves and not the problems they were causing. They used the excuse that buses would modernize the transportation system. I’m sure the ones who recommended this made a fortune of money. The city bought new buses and sold the trolley cars to foreign countries. Incidentally many of those trolleys are still in active service.
Trolley fare was a nickel. The cars ran on electricity, no pollution there, and they had large doors that made it so easy to get on and off with packages. The diesel buses that took their place emit pollution. Can this be the reason we see so many asthma attacks in the City?
When the suburbs were built up after the Second World War, trains lost passengers. The reason is that instead of building mass transit, they built roads for the suburban homeowners and their cars. Even now, the Cross-Westchester Expressway has been enlarged to take in more traffic coming from the Tappan Zee Bridge, but there is no new mass transit. It’s been maybe thirty years they have been planning to enlarge the Tappan Zee Bridge to bring more traffic and pollution to the area.
There are plenty of roads today discharging pollution and we don’t need any more roads. What we need is a good mass transit system for commuters in the suburbs. If a good transit system were available the people would use it.
Mass transit can only work when there are stations to collect riders, and Rockland County can do it. What Rockland County needs is a full-time mass transportation system, and not the part time one that exists today. An otherwise great county is still behind the times. We should now look ahead to the future, and not wait until it’s too late.
This is only a dream right now, but why not make amonorail system serving Rockland County, using existing state roads such as Routes 9W, 304 and 202, going north and south, east and west along the Thruway, and Route 59 from Suffern to Nyack? I’m sure we can get state and federal aid. Or they can get investors, the same as when they built the thruway with 50-year bonds. It would be great for students, the handicapped, non-drivers, local commuters and so on. This will keep the shopping in Rockland County. Remember this is only a dream.
There should be trains crossing the Tappan Zee Bridge from Rockland County and north of Rockland County to Westchester County, and then going north and south to and from New York City. These trains could go into Grand Central Station where there are trains traveling everywhere in the United States.
There should be trains going north to open up New York State, Orange County, Albany, this would help the struggling upstate people with jobs. The most easily built trains would be monorails, placed alongside existing highways. When the MTA taxed us for more than 25 years, they mentioned having trains going from Rockland to Stewart Airport and also into New York City. It seems they have been taking our taxes to support New York City alone and as usual no one here gives a damn.
Why can’t we do some meaningful modernization and stop wasting money for those walls on the highways? Trains are the way to go, to unclog the roads and alleviate pollution, and we can also tell the oil countries where to go. Remember this is only a dream, but sometimes dreams do come true.