Quinn commutes from Staten Island to experience hour-plus ride
There are nearly 750,000 New Yorkers who have an hour-plus commute to work, according to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
Quinn, who is running for mayor, has pushed for ways to improve mass transit, and she decided to experience the long morning haul herself Monday.
She joined Yanela Tamayo on Tamayo's 95-minute commute from her home in Staten Island to her job at the New Yorker Hotel, and invited amNewYork and another newspaper exclusively to join in.
"A lot of New Yorkers who live near the subway take it for granted, but there are a lot who have to really schedule their lives around mass transit," Quinn said.
Here is how their trip went:
12:43 p.m. Quinn and Tamayo, a single mother who lives with her daughter and her sister and her two kids on Elmwood Avenue, leave the house and head for the X17 bus stop at the corner of Marsh and Richmond avenues. Tamayo had to report to work at 3 p.m. but she says she likes to get there early.
"Sometimes I have to get in and after I swipe go to the back of the bus to see if there are any seats left," she says. "[The commute] is long."
After a five-minute walk, Quinn and Tamayo reach the stop and wait for the 1 p.m. bus to show up. While waiting, Quinn talks about some of the ideas she's pushed to improve transit efficiency. Her biggest proposal: mayoral control over the MTA board, who give city commuters a bigger voice for their woes.
"It's not just Staten Island; there are parts of Queens where you have to take the Long Island Rail Road just to get into Manhattan," she says as she waits in the shade.
1:10 p.m. When the express bus picks up Quinn and Tamayo, there are many seats to go around. But, at stop after stop, more and more people pack the bus to Manhattan.
Quinn, who lives in Manhattan, notes that the outer borough population has grown tremendously over the past few years and says her transit focus would be on neighborhoods outside Manhattan. She says she will push for more bus and light rail lines.
Not all of the conversations during the hour ride are political, especially when the bus passes over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
"I like sailing, but it sounds like a whole lot of work," Quinn says.
2:10 p.m. The pair get off outside the West Fourth Street station, where Tamayo takes the A or C train to 34th Street. Tamayo says she prefers staying on the express bus to West Fourth because the trains at the downtown stations aren't always reliable.
"Sometimes the A and the E come on the same track and other times they don't. This is easier," she says.
Tamayo and Quinn continue their small talk on the train but are interrupted several times by straphangers who want to show their support for Quinn's campaign.
2:18 p.m. Tamayo arrives at the New Yorker Hotel long before her shift starts.
Quinn says spending an afternoon in Tamayo's commuter shoes gives her more perspective for her mass transit.
"There was a half an hour that was added on," she says, referring to the time they waited for the bus. "That's a lot of time lost."