State Senate GOP to City Transit Riders: Better Start Walking

Elected Officials and Community Leaders Decry New York Senate Vote To Defund State Investment In Public Transit

Last night, the New York State Senate passed their budget resolution by a voice vote, along party lines. The Senate resolution removed the State’s $770 million investment in the MTA’s Capital Plan, included in Governor Cuomo’s budget and rejected a plan to increase the MTA’s bond cap by $7 billion.

State Senators Bill Perkins and Gustavo Rivera, Assembly Member Marcos Crespo, Bronx River Tenants Association, the Rochdale Village Commuters in Action and Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice joined Transportation Alternatives in sounding the alarm for working class New Yorkers, who rely on transit.

“New Yorkers deserve better than Senate Republicans playing politics with the State’s investment in public transit,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “Vital work like station repairs, installing new signals, lights and escalators and purchasing modern equipment shouldn’t be threatened by the whims of short-sighted elected officials who fail to recognize the important role New York’s public transit plays in driving the region's economy. Last night’s vote is the clearest sign yet that public transit in New York needs a new source of investment that sustainably supports and expands the service that makes us the most competitive city in the world.

“The Senate GOP talks about bringing more jobs to New York and then they vote to defund a proven job-creator: public transit,” continued White. “If the Senate’s budget comes to fruition, work on construction projects will come to a halt and people will be unemployed. This will set back the state’s economic recovery and doom New Yorkers to longer, less reliable and more crowded commutes.” The MTA Capital Plan accounts for one-third of construction jobs in the downstate region, and the 2005-2009 MTA Capital Plan helped create 79,869 jobs in upstate New York.

The response from community leaders, including Assembly Member Marcos Crespo (D-Bronx) and Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice (Bronx), has been loud and clear: don’t cut public transit’s budget.

“The failure by Senate Republicans to include in their budget resolution $770 million in the MTA's capital budget and to increase its bond cap by $7 billion, will cripple the development of transit infrastructure downstate and stymie the growth of tens of thousands of transit related manufacturing jobs upstate,” said State Senator Bill Perkins (D-Manhattan). It is in effect a double whammy, hurting both upstate and downstate and flies in the face of Senate Republicans' claims that they want to grow our economy.”

“When Senate Republicans voted to take funding away from public transportation yesterday, they voted against New York working families throughout the state who rely on public transportation to get to and from work each and every day,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx). “This decision comes at a time when spurring job creation should be at the heart of how we as a legislature decide to allocate funding. It is totally irresponsible and short-sighted for the Senate Republicans to vote to kill 129,000 jobs across the state. Time and again, Republicans have shown a concern for the pocketbooks of the wealthiest New Yorkers by opposing a fairer tax system, at the same time they continue to deny hard working New Yorkers the opportunities they deserve to provide for their families.”

“We are against any reduction in funding to public transit,” said Norma Saunders, President of the Bronx River Tenants Association. “Our community is already suffering from the results of fewer buses and trains. Public transit is how we travel to school, and work. Stop playing with our livelihoods.”

“Working class families have been asked to pay more and more for services and we are receiving less and less for our transit dollar,” said Lorna Welshman-Niblette, Co-Chair of the Rochdale (Queens) Village Commuters in Action. “The New York State Senate needs to support the hard working families of New York City by standing up and supporting public transit.”

The current MTA Capital Plan will generate $14.7 billion in business and create 350,000 jobs in New York. Every $1 billion spent on transit capital creates 24,000 jobs. The MTA Capital Plan creates a job dividend across New York State, from the construction of subway cars in Plattsburgh and Hornell to the state-of-the-art bus building facilities in the Central New York and Mohawk Valley Regions.

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