Kathryn Garcia pitches 10,000 electric school buses and residential parking permits

city Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia talks about her new role as interim chair of NYCHA with reporters at City Hall.
Former DSNY commissioner turned 2021 mayoral candidate Kathryn Garcia. (File photo)

Mayoral candidate Kathryn Garcia is proposing making 10,000 school buses fully electric and creating a system requiring parking permits for New York City motorists using street parking for car storage if she is elected in 2021.

The former Department of Sanitation commissioner released Tuesday a comprehensive list of transportation improvements she would support as mayor, many of which are solely in the hands of the state through the MTA, but popular initiatives among New Yorkers nonetheless.

“Too many New Yorkers faced long, unreliable commutes to work and school even before COVID. A safe, reliable and efficient transportation system is critical to our recovery,” Garcia said. “Our streets and sidewalks today are a losing battle between competing uses, and we must ensure that our public spaces serve the public first. And we now have an unprecedented opportunity to redefine our streetscape and create vibrant outdoor spaces that will bring tourism back and drive our recovery.”

Garcia’s proposal for electric school buses seems to riff off of an initiative by the de Blasio administration to acquire school bus companies contracted by the city Department of Education, something that came to light early in the pandemic and was later executed to some extent as a cost-cutting and oversight measure.

While parking on side streets throughout the five boroughs is free, unless one forgets to move their car for alternate side parking, Garcia hopes to launch a program that will make curbside storage of personal vehicles a “privilege, not a right” by prioritizing permits for low emissions cars.

Areas around curbs will instead be allocated to green infrastructure installations such as bluebelts and bioswales – reviled by many homeowners in more suburban communities in the city – as well as providing opportunities for small businesses.

Garcia plans to add 250 miles to the existing 1,375 miles of bike lanes across New York City built out under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero program and making the Open Streets program permanent in her administration if she makes it to City Hall.

Her administration would also acquire additional snow removal assets in order to specifically clear bike lanes which often go neglected during storms or are destroyed by city plows.

“The current approach is dangerous and insufficient. Incremental change isn’t going to cut it,” Garcia added.

Garcia’s plan includes working with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to establish a “one-swipe in-city” fare that integrates Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North, even as the two commuter lines operate not on the basis of MetroCards or OMNY, but by more traditional ticket methods.

The crowded field for mayor also includes Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, city Comptroller Scott Stringer, former DSNY Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, former Obama administration HUD secretary Shaun Donovan, former CCRB Chair Maya Wiley, Andrew Yang and Councilman Carlos Menchaca.

Read Garcia’s full proposal here.