Transit geeks, take note: Imagine a street-level light-rail system stretching from river to river on 42nd St. No more slow-boat-to-China crosstown, but a sleek, smooth, pedestrian-friendly system with stops at each avenue.
Yes, it's a bit of pipe dream, but there's an advocacy group pushing for just such a line: vision42. Here's a PDF map of what it could look like. As of now, transit riders headed west of 8th Ave. or east of Lexington are basically stuck with the M42, which ranked as the 8th slowest bus route according to the Straphangers' 2004 survey. One of the light-rail group's founders claims the estimated river-to-river travel time would be a speedy 20 minutes.
But while it's fun to dream -- and bring to mind similar such downtown above-ground lines in Manchester, England, and Strasbourg, France -- this system is not really on MTA's radar. They're pushing more for an extension of the 7 subway line, in accord with the mayor's visions for the West Side.
New Jersey, of course, has not one or two but three light-rail lines, or two-and-a-half if you consider that the Newark subway is partly underground.