Tri-State Transportation Campaign
Testimony at MTA Finance Committee Meeting
March 23, 2009

Good morning. My name is Kate Slevin and I am executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a regional policy watchdog organization working for a more balanced transportation network.

We have one message today and that is - Albany must act. It is two days and counting until fare hikes and service cuts are a done deal. Two days until riders on dozens of bus lines across the region lose service, until monthly, unlimited Metro-North tickets from White Plains to Grand Central rise from $191 to $243. Until monthly unlimited MetroCards increase from $81 to $103. Until Long Island Bus riders lose free transfers to NYC Transit subways and buses and face fares of $3.50 per ride.

If Albany doesn’t act, we begin the vicious cycle of transit disinvestment, where fares increase, service declines, our economy suffers, and safety and reliability are undermined for future generations. Albany cannot let this happen.

We need leadership from Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, Governor David Paterson, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. We need them to find a way to plug holes in the operating budget and invest in the next multi year capital construction program. The operating budget and capital program are like love and marriage, as Sinatra sang, “you can’t have one without the other.”

Last week, the Daily News called the broad coalition calling for more MTA funding “remarkable.” That’s because it includes so many diverse groups - from powerful teachers union, business groups, and construction trades, to good government watchdogs, to local environmental justice organizations, to regular commuters.

Senate Majority Leader Smith, Governor Paterson, and Speaker Silver, if you don’t agree on a compromise, fares will rise and our transit system will start to fall into disrepair under your watch, and future generations will remember who is to blame. Please do something.