For immediate release: May 7, 2009
Kate Slevin, Veronica Vanterpool
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
P: 212-268-7474
C: 917-833-9259

Tri-State Transportation Campaign Statement in Response to NYS Legislature’s Bailout Plan for Millions of Transit Users

We are relieved that Governor Paterson and the State Legislature have finally agreed to a balanced revenue solution for the MTA that spares millions of transit riders the near term pain of crippling service cuts and massive fare increases scheduled to begin on May 31, 2009. The bailout plan, the result of intense negotiations between Governor Paterson and Senate and Assembly leaders, will generate revenue for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to be used to prevent a 21% to 29% fare increase on subways, buses, and commuter rail, service reductions and eliminations, and massive job layoffs. Legislators, especially Senators Craig Johnson and Brian X. Foley, deserve credit for making the tough choices necessary to prevent these service cuts and fare hikes.

After five months of fierce debate, the solution that emerged is a balanced one that asks all beneficiaries of the transit network--drivers, transit users and businesses--to contribute to supporting the MTA. The compromise plan reflects calls by transit advocates and Richard Ravitch that everyone who benefits from the MTA system should contribute.

The plan was passed without tolls on the East River and Harlem River bridges, a measure Tri-State, along with a broad coalition of groups, supports as a prudent long-term revenue solution for the MTA.

Though the compromise bailout plan relieves transit users and workers from the economic pain of fare increases and job layoffs, the plan does not fully fund the capital needs of the system, such as subway and bus purchases, needed track work and signal modernization, upgraded fan and communication systems, and expansion projects like the Second Avenue subway and new bus rapid transit routes. The plan’s inclusion of two years of capital funding should not be underappreciated as it is vitally important to transit riders and our regional economy. But without a fully funded capital program, the transit system still faces deterioration and decay.

Tri-State Transportation Campaign continues to be worried about the plight of Long Island Bus riders. Even with this funding agreement, it remains likely Long Island Bus will continue to operate under an unsustainable funding arrangement between the MTA and Nassau County, one that leaves Long Island Bus riders particularly vulnerable to service cuts and fare hikes in coming years.

We look forward to working with our legislators to address these outstanding issues in the months ahead.

Tri-State Transportation Campaign is a non-profit organization working towards a more balanced, transit-friendly and equitable transportation system in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.