Thanking New Yorkers Who Kept City Running During Strike Prevent Tragic Fires
Along with seven million other bus and subway riders, I breathed a deepsigh of relief when members of the Transport Workers Union went back to work on Thursday. Now I urge the union and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to come to terms on a new contract.
For a host of reasons, I also hope that we never have a replay of the transit strike of 2005. Thousands of hardworking New Yorkers dearly miss the wages and tips they lost during what would normally have been a busy pre-Christmas week. We estimate that businesses in all five boroughs took an approximately $1 billion hit.
Many stores across the city were largely deserted during days when they would usually have been packed. The same went for our museums and cultural institutions. Restaurants were starved for business.
A number of construction sites also shut down because supply deliveries couldn’t make it through traffic-clogged streets. Taxpayers coughed up roughly $10 million a day in City funds spent on police overtime and other strike-related costs. The City also lost what will almost certainly amount to tens of millions of dollars in sales tax revenue.
But while there were no winners in the transit strike, there were heroes-lots of them. The strike was a big test for City government - and thanks to the very effective contingency plan developed by our Office of Emergency Management and carried out by City workers, we passed that test with flying colors. Let me take a minute to give credit where credit is due.
I want to acknowledge the police officers who worked long hours in the freezing cold at bridge and tunnel entrances and along wind-swept City streets.
I want to commend the operators at the 311 Citizens Service Center who calmly and professionally handled a record volume of hundreds of thousands of calls from worried New Yorkers.
Teachers, hospital workers, firefighters, sanitation workers, employees at the Department of Transportation, and many, many others all went above and beyond the call of duty. Let me simply say “thank you” to everyone who kept New Yorkers safe and New York City running last week. And let me also ask everyone to remember in your prayers firefighter Matthew Long, who was critically injured when he was struck by a private bus while bicycling to work on Thursday morning.
Finally, I have nothing but admiration for all the New Yorkers who car-pooled, bicycled, roller-bladed, and walked miles to work and school through last week’s bitter cold. You demonstrated tenacity, ingenuity, and a generosity toward one another that were truly inspiring. You showed the real spirit of New York-and in that spirit, let me wish all of you the very best of this holiday season.