Plus: The MTA workers' union is sort of threatening to strike after the governor accused LIRR workers of "fraud" for collecting a lot of overtime. If you're a teen who's sick of adults badgering you on the subway, we want to hear from you. And certain NJ Transit riders can expect major delays this weekend, thanks to two K-pop concerts at MetLife Stadium.

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Seth Wenig/AP

Maybe you heard: Mayor Bill de Blasio is officially running for president.

Like the other 22 Democrats in the race, he doesn't actually control most of New York City's transportation system. But unlike those other 22 candidates, he has some sizable impact on how people get around the most populated city in the country.

So I asked fellow We The Commuters reporter Stephen Nessen to give us a primer on Mayor de Blasio's transportation legacy. If you're trying to decide whether to support your local candidate — or if you're one of the 15 people in North Dakota who read this newsletter last week and want to know more about who Bill de Blasio is — here's an overview.

He Pushed for Safer Streets

This was one of the mayor’s first — and arguably most audacious — efforts to remake New York City, based on a European idea that all traffic deaths can be prevented if you improve street designs and change drivers' habits.

His goal is to eliminate all traffic deaths by 2024. And since his Vision Zero plan launched in 2014, we've seen a more than 30 percent drop in driver, cyclist and pedestrian deaths. Not bad. Although, so far this year, seven cyclists have been killed, compared to 10 in all of 2018.

He Loves Ferries...No Matter the Cost

In 2017, Mayor de Blasio launched two city-funded ferry routes, later expanding the program to six total routes. And he kept the cost of a single ride at just $2.75. The rub for many people is the fact that the ferries are expected to receive $600 million in taxpayer funds over the next three years, essentially subsidizing riders at $8.96 per trip.

While many riders love it (there’s good coffee and rosé on tap), the city hasn’t released any demographic data about who’s riding the ferry, leading many to suspect it’s a niche option serving mainly wealthier residents.

He Doesn't. Control. The Subways.

For the umpteenth time, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo controls the subways.

That said, as subway service was spiraling out of control in 2017, the mayor was all but absent from the conversation. When the MTA came up with a plan to immediately make repairs, the governor insisted the city pay for half the plan, leading to a protracted finger-pointing game.

For months, de Blasio insisted that the state should pass a millionaires' tax to fund subway repairs, not ask the city to pay. The tax had zero political traction, and de Blasio eventually let it drop, grudgingly forking over the money. Now, subway service is back to pre-2017 crisis levels, and slowly improving.

Yes, He Drives to the Gym

Everything in politics is symbolic, so what's the public to make of the fact that de Blasio takes an SUV from Gracie Mansion on the Upper East Side to the YMCA gym in Park Slope, where he used to go before he was mayor?

Not a man of the people? Never lost touch with his roots? Hypocrite for promoting a Green New Deal while taking a gas-guzzling SUV through heavily congested city streets to use a gym, when there’s likely one in his home already?

He Stalled on Affordable MTA Fares

The idea of half-priced MetroCards for 800,000 low-income New Yorkers came from an organization run by one of de Blasio’s appointees to the MTA board, David Jones. Furthermore, it’s a program the city can implement without the state or MTA getting involved.

And yet, de Blasio resisted it, suggesting that maybe a millionaires' tax (again) could pay for such a program. It finally took the City Council Speaker, Corey Johnson, to force the hand of the mayor to include it in his budget. The program had a rocky roll-out at the start of 2019, but it’s happening now.

Stephen Nessen

Not Saying MTA Workers Will Strike...But They Might Strike?

Mary Altaffer/AP

After reports that a few Long Island Rail Road employees brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime pay last year, the MTA started sending cops to monitor LIRR workers' timekeeping. And the transportation workers' union isn't happy about it.

"A strike is not a far-fetched notion anymore," Transportation Workers Union International's president, John Samuelson, told the Wall Street Journal.

On one side, you have the MTA and Gov. Cuomo railing about "fraud" and "stealing," at a time when the MTA is desperate for money to fix the subways. On the other side, union officials are arguing that in order to fix the subways, they need to either hire more people, or make a lot of employees work overtime.

"There’s no evidence at all of widespread criminality," Samuelsen told the New York Times. "This is what Donald Trump does."

Meanwhile, the union's contract with the MTA expired at midnight last night. "And quite frankly, we are not close to a negotiated settlement," TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano wrote in a statement.

A reminder from Shumita: We've been going through the results from our Commuter Survey, and we're reading a lot of annoyed comments from adults about how they dread taking buses and subways right when schools let out, because students can be loud, disruptive, and generally back-packy.

Middle and high school students: The floor is yours. How do you respond to this annoyance from adults? What would you like them to know about your commute? Shoot an email to (And if you're an adult, pass this along to a student in your life!)

Best of the Week From Gothamist and WNYC

It's cheaper to buy single MTA rides if you don't plan to take a train or a bus outside your weekday commute. We crunched some numbers after the MTA's recent fare hike, and also determined that the 7-day unlimited card is really just for tourists, and it's wisest to fill up a 30-day card on a Monday morning.

Panicked subway riders stampeded out of the 34th Street-Herald Square station Wednesday after hearing a loud sound on a D train that some believed were gunshots. The NYPD soon investigated and found nothing, calling this "a non-event," though one rider told us a woman fleeing the train fell pretty hard.

New MetroCards paying tribute to those who worked at Ground Zero on 9/11 are now available at 10 subway stations.

A new bill in Albany would make it illegal to text while crossing the street. Brooklyn Assemblymember Felix Ortiz put forth the legislation, which would fine first-time offenders $25 to $50 for texting anyone other than the police, fire department, hospital, or "a physician's office or health clinic" while in a crosswalk.

Bebeto Matthews/AP

What Else We're Reading

Access-A-Ride considers a vehicle to be "on-time" if it shows up within 30 minutes of when a rider requested, which may play into why the MTA pegged the paratransit service's on-time performance for pickups at 98 percent in February. For many riders with disabilities, standing on a curb and waiting 30 minutes for a car or van isn't doable. (The New York Times)

Taxi driver schools in New York City are flourishing, even as yellow cab revenue drops and Uber and Lyft institute hiring freezes. What's driving the demand? Immigrants are looking to earn more than they would as bodega employees or parking lot attendants. (The Wall Street Journal)
Expect major delays on NJ Transit trains to Secaucus this weekend, thanks to the sold-out BTS concerts on Saturday and Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Trains are scheduled to run every 10 minutes after the K-pop concerts let out, but the transit agency is still warning of two-hour wait times to get on a train. (

The MTA plans to redesign Queens' entire bus network in 2020, and it's holding two open sessions for bus riders to provide input. The meetings are taking place next Monday and Tuesday, both at 6:30 p.m. For more information on meetings where you can speak up, see below. (Streetsblog)


Our friends at WQXR are back with a decompression playlist for your journey home! One click gets this straight onto your Spotify app.

Best of the MTA's Lost and Found

Clarissa Sosin for WNYC

If your band lost all its instruments on the train...unfortunately these have been in the Lost and Found too long to be reclaimed. But if your tambourinist quit, let me know — I will gladly fill in.

If, more recently, you lost something on a bus, subway or the Staten Island Railway, stop by the MTA's Lost and Found at Penn Station. If you don't claim your property in time, you may get a second chance to buy it when it goes up for auction.

Weekend Service Changes: Night of May 17 - Early Morning on May 20

This is a partial list of major service disruptions scheduled for the weekend. For a complete list of the MTA's Weekender updates, check here.

1 train service between 137 St in Manhattan and 242 St in the Bronx will be replaced by A and C trains and free shuttle buses.

On Saturday and Sunday between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., 3 and 4 train service between Utica Av and New Lots Av in Brooklyn will be replaced by free shuttle buses.

6 train service between Parkchester and 3 Av-138 St in the Bronx will be replaced by free shuttle buses.

Saturday morning through Sunday night, Flushing-bound 7 trains will skip 33, 40, 46, 52, 69, 74, 82, 90, 103 and 111 Sts in Queens.

Norwood-bound D trains will skip 170 St, 174-175 Sts and 182-183 Sts in the Bronx.

During the day on Saturday and Sunday, 96 St-bound Q trains will run express from Kings Hwy to Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

Bay Ridge-bound R trains will skip Union St, 4 Av-9 St, Prospect Av and 25 St in Brooklyn.

On Saturday and Sunday, J train service between Broadway Junction in Brooklyn and Jamaica Center in Queens will be replaced by E trains and free shuttle buses.

Check here for complete details about the Long Island Rail Road.

For NJ Transit, check here for the latest service advisories.

Upcoming Meetings and Events

Monday, May 20th

Metro-North Committee Meeting - 8:30 a.m.
LIRR Committee Meeting - 9:30 a.m.
NYCT & MTA Bus Committee Meeting - 10:30 a.m.

Tuesday, May 21st

Riders Alliance's Bronx Bus Turnaround Campaign Meeting - 6:45 p.m.
Bronx River Community Center
1619 E 174th St
Bronx, NY 10472

Wednesday, May 22nd

MTA Board Meeting - 9:00 a.m.

For official MTA committee meetings, registration for two-minute public speaking slots opens 15 minutes before the start time. To speak before a board meeting, you must register 30 minutes early. Both are held at at the MTA's Board Room at 2 Broadway on the 20th Floor.

We the Commuters is a weekly newsletter about transportation from WNYC and Gothamist. Sign up for essential commuting coverage delivered to your inbox every Thursday.