Press Statement

For immediate release:
August 3, 2011
Contact:
Ya-Ting Liu, Federal Advocate
Phone: 212-268-7474

Federal Cuts to Transportation Would Threaten New York’s Transportation System

On the heels of the debt ceiling agreement in Washington D.C., the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a regional transportation policy watchdog group, warned against federal cuts to transportation, saying current proposals could seriously harm the state’s economy.

In particular, House Transportation & Infrastructure Chairman John Mica’s proposal for the next federal transportation bill would cut federal funding to the state by $7.2 billion over the next 6 years and would cost the state almost 45,000 jobs in the first year alone. If the House bill is enacted, federal transportation aid to the state would be cut by about a third, which would decimate both the MTA and the New York State Department of Transportation’s unfunded capital construction plans. 

These cuts could be in addition to any imposed by Tuesday’s federal debt ceiling agreement. Specific impacts of the debt ceiling agreement  are murky, but transportation is one of the domestic programs likely to see cuts. Discretionary spending grant programs, such as TIGER, New Starts, Sustainable Communities Regional Planning, and High Speed Rail are particularly vulnerable.

The MTA’s current plan to fully fund the last three years of its capital program (2012-2014) includes $3.8 billion in federal transportation funds, and assumes that federal funding will remain at existing levels. The MTA’s current proposal already relies on the issuance of $7 billion more in debt and hiking fares every two years. 

Cutting federal funds by a third would cost the agency more than $1.2 billion over three years and spell disaster for a system already treading water.  A cut of such magnitude is roughly equivalent to:

(Figures are from MTA’s 2010-14 Capital Program.)

Deep cuts in federal transportation aid would also curtail critical road and bridge repair and maintenance work throughout the state.   Federal aid represents nearly half of the New York State Department of Transportation’s $7 billion, two-year capital program for 2010-2012. The State DOT does not have a capital program beyond summer 2012.

“New York can barely maintain existing roads and bridges, and the transit budget is being held together by string,” said Kate Slevin, Executive Director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.  “It’s hard to see how the state could manage a cut of this magnitude.”

“Federal transportation funding impact s the quality of New York’s transportation system.  If New Yorkers want safe, more affordable and efficient transportation options, now is the time to ask members of Congress to oppose these cuts that will bring New Yorkers to their knees,” said Ya-Ting Liu, federal advocate for Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

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Tri-State Transportation Campaign is a nonprofit transportation policy group dedicated to creating a more balanced, environmentally friendly and equitable transportation system in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.