Home About Us Media Kit Subscriptions Links Forum
Mayor Michael Bloomberg: November 2010 Archives

November 2010 Archives

Improving our City's Transportation Network

  |   Comments   |   Bookmark and Share
In a city as big and bustling as New York, the ease with which people can get around town quickly and comfortably is a key factor in our quality of life -- and our economic competitiveness. That's why, from the very beginning of our administration, we've looked for innovative ways to improve New York's transportation network while also reducing our carbon footprint. The investments we've made in transportation are also a big part of why New York City is now creating jobs at twice the rate of the nation.

R44 stock of the New York City Subway remains ...

For example, the Number 7 Subway extension, which the city is funding, is a great investment that will continue to pay big dividends in the form of new jobs, housing, and open space, not to mention the revenues generated from the development of the Hudson Yards area. In the not-too-distant future, straphangers will be able to ride the Number 7 all the way to the 34th Street Station on the Far West Side. And now, we plan to talk to officials on both sides of the Hudson about whether we might be able to extend the Number 7 line even farther west -- to New Jersey. It's an innovative concept, and one that we're very excited to explore. 

We're also partnering with the Zipcar Company to test out a car share program for city agencies that would help us reduce the size of our passenger fleet, take cars off the road, and free up street parking. And, for the first time ever, we're working with the auto industry to design a safer, greener, and more comfortable cab especially for New York City. 

Checker Cab in Helsinki

We've received a number of proposals, and last week we narrowed the field down to three top contenders. Now we're asking New Yorkers to help us decide which, if any, of these top designs could meet the safety, comfort, and durability requirements of the 24/7 taxi industry. Tell us what you think are the most important features for the "Taxi of Tomorrow" by visiting the "Taxi of Tomorrow webportal, or through the city's Web site, www.nyc.gov

For example, would you rather have more storage space for luggage, or more room for passengers? How about a sunroof that allows you to gaze up at the midtown skyscrapers, or an electrical outlet to charge your cell phone? Those who take a moment to answer the brief survey posted on the "Taxi of Tomorrow" Web page will have a chance to win a whole year of free cab rides -- worth up to $5,000. That's a pretty fantastic prize, so don't delay in filling out the survey. Again, you can find the survey and view the proposed designs for the "Taxi of Tomorrow" here, or through the city's Web site, www.nyc.gov

Joel Klein Thumb.jpg
The ancient Greeks, in their wisdom, believed that only at evening could you recognize how wonderful the entire day had truly been. In that same vein, now that Schools Chancellor Joel Klein's historic eight-plus years at the head of our public school system are drawing to a close, it's possible to appreciate the dramatic and fundamental transformation of our schools that he has helped bring about.

Think back for a minute to the old status quo that we confronted in 2002. It was a system top-heavy with bureaucracy and shot through with patronage, where authority was diffused and confused and where, ultimately, no one was held accountable for making sure children learned. Just as there are today, there were a lot of outstanding principals and teachers in the schools then -- but all too often, their excellent efforts went unrewarded, just as the half-hearted work of others too often went unaltered. And the result was a school system that failed far too many of our kids.

Seizing the opportunity that came when state leaders finally gave New York City control of our own schools, our administration, led by Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, Chancellor Klein, and their teams, changed all that. We reduced the system's bureaucracy and plowed the money that was saved back into the classrooms. We made sure that for the first time ever, every school in the city got a fair budget deal from City Hall. We sharply reduced crime in the schools. We oversaw the largest effort in the city's history to construct new schools and modernize existing ones. We created new, academically challenging schools, including charter schools, that give students a broader range of educational choices. We established standards-based arts education for students at all grade levels. We opened up new channels of communication between schools and parents. And we ended the long-discredited practice of social promotion that had set up generations of students for disappointment and failure.

The result: Even though we still have a lot of work ahead of us, any way you measure it, our schools today are far better than they were eight years ago. Graduation rates that were once stagnant have gone up every year; they're 27 percent higher than they were four years ago, compared to a just 3 percent rise in the rest of the state. Our students have shown significant improvement on the National Assessment of Education Progress tests. Black and Hispanic students have shrunk the achievement gap separating them from their white and Asian classmates. And a school system that was once the poster child of dysfunction is now hailed by the Obama administration as a model for other big cities to follow.

A lot of our school reforms were initially controversial. Today, they're widely accepted. That shows how far we've helped move the debate about improving our schools, here and across the nation. Joel's leadership has been a huge part of that. Now our new Schools Chancellor is Cathie Black -- a dynamic manager with outstanding achievements in business and a deep understanding of the skills our students need for success in college or careers. I'm confident that she's going to keep moving our schools forward. And that's why last week I was delighted to welcome her on board, along with two other new city commissioners: Edna Wells Handy, commissioner of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services; and Terrance Holliday, commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Veterans' Affairs.

Mayor Ed Koch once said that New York City is the place "where the future comes to audition."  And that's something our Administration takes very seriously.  In fact, we're bringing the spirit of innovation to every corner of the city.  And by thinking creatively - by flipping the conventional wisdom on its head - by having the courage to try new things - we're gaining new ground on some of our most complex, longstanding challenges - like fixing our schools and protecting our environment.
We're also using innovation to change the way government itself does business - making us more efficient and more effective than ever before.  A great example of this came to fruition last week when we unveiled a groundbreaking partnership with Microsoft.  The technology giant has a long history of working with our schools and our government, but our latest partnership - the first of its kind - elevates our commitment to innovation to a whole new level.
Central to this agreement is a new licensing contract that significantly lowers our technology costs.  In the past, the City's numerous agencies would each negotiate their own licenses and purchase their own software individually.  But by leveraging City government's tremendous buying power, we've now been able to consolidate these dozens of agreements into one single license covering more than 100,000 City employees.
And instead of us purchasing a bundle of products for every employee, Microsoft has also agreed to charge us based on which applications our City workers actually need and use.  Together, these improvements will produce an incredible $50 million in savings for the City over the next five years.
This new agreement also gives us access to Microsoft's latest tools and products - like "cloud computing," which is becoming an increasingly popular way for people to collaborate and access information.  By storing some of our information on Microsoft's data servers, our employees are going to be able to work together online - regardless of where they are in the world.  This will also take some pressure off the City's own computer servers, which means we won't need as much hardware or use as much energy - which will save us even more money.
And that really goes to the heart of what innovation can do for City government.  By harnessing the power of data and technology, we're not just making government leaner, faster, and more responsive. We're also making government more cost effective - and that's something that all New Yorkers can appreciate.
Education Update, Inc. All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of the publisher. © 2011.