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Opinion

(Ed.'s note: The following was sent to the TONH's Director of Community Based Planning and is printed here at the writer's request.)

Parking isn't the only transportation problem in Port. The other problem is that it is impossible for high school kids to get from one part of town to another, or to weekend activities at school, without relying on parents to drive them. Building a bigger parking lot won't solve that problem. Better bus service would.

At 14, most kids are mature enough to take a bus by themselves. It is demeaning for them to have to rely on their parents to get around. It is even more frightening how many older kids have grown so accustomed to having chauffeurs on-call that they can't imagine life without them.

Port won't meet the need for both commuter and shopper parking without building the full compliment of 500 spaces. Commuters who get to the LIRR station after 7:30 a.m., when the existing lots are currently filled, could easily fill 200 or 300 more spaces.

If we're going to build parking garages, the most cost efficient structures will be four-story garages similar to the options shown on the TONH website. Just adding a second tier of parking isn't cost effective. On the other hand, such four-story garages would fundamentally change the scale and character of the town.

Bringing a few hundred more cars downtown during rush hour will also clog the already congested narrow streets.

It doesn't make sense to spend $20,000 to build each additional parking space when round-trip taxi fare to the LIRR station is $10. For the cost of one parking space, you could take 2,000 R/Ts to the station in a taxi.

Port needs an efficient bus service. MTA's Long Island Bus will never meet that need because its services are clearly designed to convince people to drive their own cars. Earlier this year, L.I. Bus actually posted paid advertisements on the sides of their buses making fun of bus riders as losers, miscreants and social rejects. The management of L.I. Bus feels no incentive to provide an efficient bus service. Long after it has lost any relevance, we're still stuck with Robert Moses' policy of suppressing mass transit to keep out the poor. Unlike sprawling cities in other parts of the country, Nassau County is dense and compact. It should be able to support an efficient bus system.

We need a local bus service, responsive to the needs of the town. We should get local cab and bus companies to bid on providing local scheduled bus service. If they provided two loops, one north and one south, that ran to Main Street every 10 or 15 minutes from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., it would eliminate the need for more parking spaces. It would also bring more shoppers downtown as commuters stopped on Main Street for some last minute shopping on the way home.

Rather than pay security guards to monitor a parking garage 24/7, we should pay bus drivers to provide a real service.

Rather than spend $10 million to build 500 parking spaces, we could use a fraction of that sum to start a bus service. Long Island has traditionally treated buses as the last resort of the lower classes, but the Island is now being strangled by an explosion in the number of cars on the road. More parking lots will just bring more cars. It is time to recognize that this county is more densely populated than most American cities. Port needs an alternative to more cars.

Robert T. Schill


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