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Study all NYC transit needs, not just Uber

Could Uber be coming LaGuardia Airport?

Could Uber be coming LaGuardia Airport? Photo Credit: Flickr/Scott Beale/Laughing Squid

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council made a smart move by backing down Wednesday from their escalating fight with Uber, Lyft and other app-based taxi companies.

And Uber's decision to agree to changes on its end -- from increasing accessibility for disabled riders to contributing to the MTA budget -- was equally welcome.

In the last few days, de Blasio found himself relatively alone in his efforts to stop Uber's expansion. Celebrities and even Gov. Andrew Cuomo emerged pro-Uber. There were reports that the mayor's cap proposal on the number of new for-hire licenses might conflict with state law.

Whatever the reason, the truce brings an opportunity. It's time to embrace what these innovative companies can do to help residents. Then, focus on how to improve their services and oversight.

More important, attention should turn to the underlying issues. If officials are serious about addressing traffic and the environment, then the study they promise to conduct must be full and detailed. Solutions must be significant.

Start with serious consideration of proposals from former NYC traffic commissioner Sam Schwartz and the Move NY coalition. Schwartz's plan includes tolls on the East River bridges and lowering tolls on the Throgs Neck, Whitestone and Verrazano bridges. This could level the playing field and clear the bottleneck of vehicles that now use the toll-free Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg and 59th Street bridges. Move NY also suggests a toll for drivers passing 60th Street in Manhattan, another move that could reduce midtown congestion.

Parked trucks remain significant sources of congestion. A permanent, extensive effort that encourages Manhattan businesses to shift deliveries to night and early morning hours could make a difference.

The state and MTA have to do their part. Focusing attention and dollars on public transit is critical. And funding the MTA's capital plan is a must.

This isn't necessarily about Uber or its competitors. Do the analysis. Perhaps, then, a conversation about the real answers to the city's traffic problems can begin.


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