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Suburban Candidates Want Transit, Support Pricing over HOV Strategies

The Thruway Authority and the NY State DOT might be interested in a county political candidate survey just completed by the NY League of Conservation Voters. In response to a questionnaire, county executive, county legislator, and town supervisor candidates in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester answered questions about methods for combating congestion on highways and roads. In Westchester, 36% of candidates surveyed expressed support for market-based transportation policy measures, far outpacing their counterparts in Suffolk and Nassau. On the other hand, HOV lanes found little support in general -- less than 20% of candidates in each county thought they were a good idea. Interestingly, candidates from Suffolk -- the only county surveyed with a functioning HOV lane on one of its highways -- gave them least credence (less than 8% support more HOV lanes). Only about 18% of Westchester candidates said HOV lanes were worth considering.

Overall, 75 of the 86 candidates surveyed responded to the transportation query, and only in Westchester did all candidates respond on transportation. Slightly more candidates (25%) were open to strategies like congestion pricing and charging employees for parking than opposed such techniques (22%). Some said transportation pricing policies would be unfair to commuters who already contribute dedicated transportation revenues and would be punitive if no adequate alternatives were provided. 48% of all candidates stressed the need for more and better mass transit, calling for improvements to LIRR, Metro-North, and local bus service. Vanpools and carpools ranked second among frequently cited tactics for reducing congestion. And 23% of the candidates suggested telecommuting, staggered work hours, or a flexible work-week as means of reducing commuter traffic at peak hours. Few candidates (2%) discussed the relationship between exclusive commercial strip zoning and traffic or the positive effect which higher density development could have on congestion levels.

A comparison of total responses indicates Nassau candidates were most prepared to discuss a wide range of congestion strategies, indicating a high profile for transportation issues there (especially support for expanded transit).

The sophisticated transportation questions posed by the League of Conservation Voters are a very welcome addition to transportation policy discourse by one of the region's more established environmental voices. For copies of the questionnaire or responses, contact Peter Sterling at the League: (212) 777-3536.

An excerpt from:
Mobilizing the Region
A Weekly Bulletin from the Tri-State Transportation Campaign
Electronic Edition Number 42
August 18, 1995


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