Light Rail
Regional Rail
Penn Station
Livable City Plan
Serving NYC since 1989!

pedestrians first!

A movement aimed at exploring and achieving the upper limit of "devehicularization" of our nation's largest city: Get cars out of our parks. Curb the reckless motorists who dominate our streets. Cut noise, smog and traffic costs. Increase pedestrian space and safety. Shift city and state funds from highway expansion to investments in new transit options and extensions -- not just baby steps. Last but not least, make bicycling better. A livable city is possible!

Auto-Free NY has been holding FREE monthly meetings, featuring a wide variety of guest speakers, since its founding in February, 1989. Usually held in Manhattan, on the third Tuesday of each month, they are open to the public, and no reservations are needed.
The Livable City Transport Plan
is an affordable, comprehensive vision of our city, designed to be achievable in just one four-year mayoral term. Using innovations now common in more sophisticated and democratically run cities here and abroad, this plan would raise New Yorkers' quality of life through better functioning public transit, a noticeable reduction in car use and much more auto-free space in the core of NYC, the most densely populated city in the nation. As always, we look forward to your thoughtful review and comments.

• The City's plaNYC 2030
Lower Manhattan
Light Rail in NYC
Regional Rail Working Group

Light Rail: perfect for cities (photo courtesy, based in Austin, Texas)

How the NY Times Covers NYC
Previous "Letters from George"
How to Join/Donate
Visit These Links
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Remembering Steve Dobrow
42nd St. Trolleys - 1990's Planning History
What's so Great about Streetcars?
Light Rail in the Lincoln Tunnel!
New York Streetcar News Index
East River Bridges
Rockaway Beach Line (Qns)
Life's a Beach for Paris Mayor
Berlin: Transport Politics
The Five-Minute Activist

Auto-Free NY operates under the aegis of the Institute for Rational Urban Mobility, Inc. (IRUM), a not-for-profit organization with 501(c)(3) status.
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If Car Names Were Honest:
Audi My-Way
Chevy Fistfight
Chrysler Criminal
Dodge Tumor
Ford Poluta XS
GMC Denial
Honda Discord
Hyundai Enslava
Lamborghini OINK
Lexus Segregator
Lincoln Alienator
Mazda MeFirstLastOnly
Mercury Dioxin
Saab Flatus
Saturn UrFaddas
Subaru Deforester
Toyota Runovia
VW Smoggia

Be a patriot - use mass transit!

View from the A train of the southernmost part of the LIRR Rockaway Beach line trackbed. April 2013.

Above: the view across the deserted railbeds of the LIRR Rockaway Beach rail right-of-way. Not technical issues but unaccountable bureacracies, vision-free, dishonest politicians and a tiny coterie of Encroachment Nimbys have conspired to keep this priceless public asset in ruins for decades. View from A train looking north near Howard Beach stop, April 2013. In the background is the A train Lefferts Blvd. branch, headed east. Photo: W Fields.

 Letter from George
February 1, 2018      

The North American Light Rail Renaissance and its potential for NYC

Dear Friends of Sustainable Transport:

IRUM has long championed for advancing light rail transit in the core of NYC as a unique "carrot-and-stick" strategy for reducing excessive car use in our crowded city. Not only does light rail offer an appealing way to travel ("the carrot"), it also reduces roadway space for motor vehicles in dense urban places (the "stick").

In 1978, a visionary NYC civic benefactor - Fred Papert - first called for a river-to-river crosstown trolley for 42nd Street as a way to restore a declining Midtown, particularly around Times Square, and to make surface transit more appealing while stimulating economic renewal. Papert's interest in light rail on city streets corresponded with a growing interest globally for this mostly abandoned mode of urban travel.

In the past three decades, dozens of new light rail lines have been successfully introduced in cities throughout the US, including one just across the river in New Jersey. Unfortunately, for decades, City Hall hunkered down, fearfully confusing the Hudson River with a Hudson Ocean. NYC has stubbornly resisted light rail advancement, and so the city's been everywhere stuck in the same old rut: buses trapped in traffic jams. Even where bus lanes and stops were added, parking restrictions are poorly enforced. And roadway surfaces are continuously disrupted for utility repairs buried beneath the pavement. Re-paving work is more often than not ham-fisted, resulting in a bumpy ride for buses, making navigating NYC's streets more challenging than in some third world countries.

Clearly light rail lines in dedicated lanes on the city's busiest transit arteries would set a new standard here for surface transit. Light rail offers a smooth, self-enforcing path providing the capacity needed in very dense urban settings.

Plan to attend our February auto-free NY / vision42 / regional rail working group meeting and find out how much of the world is leaving NYC and its pot-holed streets in the dust. Our special guest speaker will be Andrew Bata, regional manager for North America at the UITP (International Association of Public Transport). The meeting will be 6-8pm at the Transportation Alternatives offices in 111 John Street, lower Manhattan. An RSVP is not required but is strongly suggested at:

Progress reports will also be presented at the meeting on other IRUM initiatives, including efforts to remake the region's three commuter rail lines into a coordinated regional rail system, with frequent service, integrated fare and thru-running, and options for reducing motor vehicle use in the core the city by using carrot-and-stick pricing strategies.

For more information about IRUM's effort to advance a light rail pedestrian boulevard on 42nd Street check out
Save the date for the March meeting, when our special guest speaker, Carolyn Grossman Meagher, a regional planner at NYC, Dept. of City Planning, will give a NYC perspective on metropolitan growth.

Finally, thanks to those who have sent a contribution to IRUM in response to our year-end solicitation letter. If you havenít received this letter please consider making an on-line contribution: Contributions can also be mailed to the address shown at the bottom of this web page. Hope to see you on February 20, 2018!

George Haikalis, Chair          

P.S.  NYC SMOG ALERT UPDATES: Despite ongoing propaganda about how clean cars are these days, NYC's air quality continues to be the worst on the East Coast -- practically every day here is an Air Quality Alert Day, meaning you shouldn't breathe when outdoors, or live within a few blocks of a city highway or through street. For updates, call the state Dept of Environmental Conservation at 1-800 535-1345.


The car plague is still with us. Illustration dates from the early 1990s.

Peter Moskowitz's book
This new must-read book asks the question, what is the point of a city when only the rich and the super-rich can afford to live there? Read more
NY Times: Filler vs. Reporting on 'Vision Zero'

New tracking technology in our neighborhoods
"I Refuse to Give Up My Freedoms!" Recognize these gray boxes? EZ-Pass and Big Brother have joined op to invade our privacy, using taxpayer money. Location: Atlantic Avenue at Boerum Street, Brooklyn. Read more

The Inexorable Logic of Urban Auto Use Reduction

Auto-Free NY Meetings, 2018:
Tuesday, February 20, 2018, 6-8pm
North America's Light Rail Renaissance
Andy Bata, Regional Manager, IATP
TA Office, 111 John Street, 6-8pm

Tuesday, March 20, 6-8pm
A NYC Perspective on Metropolitan Growth
Carolyn Grossman Meagher, NYC Dept of City Planning
TA Office, 111 John Street, 6-8pm

Tuesday, April 17, 2018, 6-8pm
TA Office, 111 John Street, 6-8pm

* DIRECTIONS: Except for our summer walking tours, meetings are held at Transportation Alternatives' HQ, at 111 John Street, 2nd Fl. (just off Water Street, below the Seaport. Bike-friendly building!) Meetings start promptly at 6pm and end at 8pm. Our meetings are always FREE and open to the public.
ROME, October 2004. Photo courtesy Wayne Fields.
ROME, Oct. 2004: A modern trolley waits quietly on the Via Arenula, at the terminus of the popular #8 Argentina line, about 3 blocks south of the Pantheon. Behind the trolley can be seen the state-funded Teatro Argentina. Sophisticated cities the world over are acting now to dramatically expand transit and reduce automobile use, while NYC languishes in a smog of cars, public relations, baby steps on pedestrianization and deep-seated political decadence. AFNY's web manager stands in foreground. Photo: Wayne Fields.

Car Hugger as seen in yet another 'NY Times' car promotion, April 16, 2003.

Above: This car-hugger illustration appeared in the New York Times, which has a longstanding grudge against doing serious transit journalism.
Auto-Free New York George Haikalis, Chairman  |  One Washington Sq. Village, #5D, NYC 10012  |  Phone: (212) 475-3394  |
© Copyright 2017, 2018. All rights reserved. Auto-Free New York. This page last updated February 15, 2018.