Capitalism: Why you can’t get to Queens without a car

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Bring back the trolleys and we won’t have this problem. via Flickr user Vipal

If you’re anything like me, you have family in Queens. And you’ve realized, after a brief bit of thinking, that you haven’t seen them in ages, despite the fact that they’re right there and barely even separated from you by a body of water. “Why is this”?, you might be thinking. And it turns out you can blame not owning a car, but mostly you can blame Manhattan, same as always. Oh, and good old fashioned capitalism run amok.

The Atlantic Cities looked into things a bit and discovered the secret history of it all. Turns out that since the subway system was originally designed to bring working stiffs into Manhattan, no one thought to connect what would someday be hotter-than-the-sun outer boroughs.

There were still trolleys of course, but those died out as petroleum-based companies bought up their routes and turned them to bus lines. So people relied more on buses. And what happened then?

Buses, on the other-hand, were tertiary, connecting commuters first-and-foremost to subway lines. The massive shift to buses meant that people from Queens and parts of Brooklyn were now better connected to Manhattan than ever before, but stopped shopping in Downtown Brooklyn

So thanks, unrestrained capitalism. Next time someone is talking about the glories of the free market, think of your poor family in Queens who you’ve been neglecting for years, and give that Rand-humper a good punch civil disagreement. Ah screw it, give’em a punch. But first, be sure to read the whole sordid story over the Atlantic.

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  1. Not sure if I agree with the premise of this article, even though I wish we still had some of the trolley routes. I must admit I don’t know about the Queens trolley routes, but in the Bronx, where I came from originally, the bus routes, by and large, basically followed the old trolley routes. And many of them were “crosstown” lines–for example, the No 12 bus from Pelham Bay Park to 207th Street and Broadway.

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