Posted on November 29, 2017
Pushing New Yorkers Beyond the End of the Line
A trillion dollars in property wealth created by transit system — but not a penny goes back to the subways. https://t.co/ENwoTSoBI7
— Jim Dwyer (@jimdwyernyt) November 28, 2017
“Commutes are lengthening for more and more people,” a study by the Pratt Center for Community Development and the Rockefeller Foundation reported in 2013. “Skyrocketing housing costs push low- and moderate-income families farther from Manhattan and the well-connected communities that surround it.” The study found that 758,000 New York City residents now travel more than an hour each way to work, most of them to jobs that pay less than $35,000 per year. Kenneth Turner, 61, takes two buses and two subway lines to and from the Bronx and his job at Kennedy Airport. He makes $12.75 an hour picking up garbage in Terminal 1. “This is what I have to do to make it for myself,” Mr. Turner said. The city’s transit system controls everyday life for Mr. Turner and many others so insistently and so routinely that no one has thought to declare the situation a state of emergency. These long commutes mark a new boundary between lower-income people and those who are relatively affluent. They also bring into sharp relief how disconnected support of the transit system is from some of its principal beneficiaries: property owners. Although the wealth-making machinery of the transit system continues to this day, none of the current proposals by the mayor or the governor for funding it touch on property values. In 1987, the total market value of property in New York was $243 billion, the Independent Budget Office estimates. Three decades later, having grown four times faster than inflation, it is $1.6 trillion. The foundation of 21st-century New York’s supercharged real estate was for the rejuvenation of the city’s rapid transit infrastructure by $100 billion in public investment since the 1980s. Jaime Leon, 31, priced out of a Queens neighborhood that was closer to work, now travels just under two hours each way between Staten Island and his security guard job in Manhattan. He earns slightly more than $14 an hour. For those of us who can’t pay off the burden of a long commute with money, must pay with time.