An article in the New York Times was sent to me by Andrew Kelly, the architect of future cities festival and so much more in the city. The article resounds with our own needs in Bristol, why transport and infrastructure is so important to inclusive growth for Bristol. New York built a subway led by the imagination of then Mayor William Gaynor, who set in motion the primary phase of its construction. At that time, a public-works project of this scale had never before been undertaken in the United States, and even now, more than a century later, it grows the city’s success. The article is right to point out the incredible economic benefits the subway brought to New York and how it connected poorer neighbourhoods to wealth creation.
Before the subway, it was by no means a foregone conclusion that New York would become ‘the greatest city on earth’ but it did and the early pioneers, the politicians, the business leaders and the engineers fully recognised the case for mobility: physical mobility, economic mobility, social mobility.
As you can see from the article, New York realises the challenges they face today aren’t so different from 100 years ago. The questions the article askes for New Yorkers are:
Can the gap between rich and poor be closed, or is it destined to continue to widen?
Can we put the future needs of a city above the narrow, present-day interests of a few?
Can we use a portion of the monumental sums of wealth that we are generating to invest in an inclusive and competitive future?
They know the answers to these challenges can only be positive with inclusive growth and that rests on infrastructure in the city, particularly transport, connecting people to people, business with business and all with opportunity.
New York needs to re-invest in itself but it knows the “answer to all of these questions is still rumbling beneath New York City”.
New Yorkers and Bristolians know services and support for the poorer and the vulnerable is important and must be sustainable but transport and infrastructure builds a successful city. For all the changes in transportation technology and the rise of the car, bike lanes, our growing use of taxi apps and plans for driverless vehicles, to grow the city inclusively we fundamentally need a mass transit system.
As you will have seen, I intend to work towards that aim, opening the urban rail network and building a mass transit system. A successful city depends on achieving big aspirations.