Testimony of Vincent Pellecchia, General Counsel
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
Rockland County Scoping Meeting
October 27, 2011
Good afternoon. I am Vincent Pellecchia, general counsel of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a regional policy watchdog organization working for a more sustainable transportation network in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Like many in this room, my organization has spent a decade participating in the Tappan Zee Bridge/I-287 Environmental Review. That process led to the conclusion that public transportation in the form of bus rapid transit and commuter rail transit should be included in any plans to replace the bridge. The necessity and benefits of public transportation in the I-287 corridor were strongly supported and well documented. Today, we urge Governor Cuomo to ensure this project includes public transportation – particularly east west bus rapid transit.
BRT allows for far more routing flexibility than rail because of a buses' fundamental nature. Unlike trains, buses can jump on and off their "tracks" – the busway – to accommodate the particular needs of the route. The Tappan Zee Bridge/I-287 Corridor Environmental Review project team found that, because of this flexibility, bus rapid transit would attract over 50,000 daily riders traveling across I-287 and "provide greater transit access to residents and businesses in Rockland and Westchester [Counties]." Bus rapid transit is projected to do the most to speed cross corridor trips and reduce congestion on the bridge. Bus rapid transit has proved popular in such disparate places as Pittsburgh, New York City, China and Columbia.
Cost estimates for transit on the bridge have been widely misreported. According to New York State Department of Transportation, the projected cost of cross-corridor bus rapid transit is between $900 million and $2.5 billion, and it’s likely that a new streamlined design could drive costs down even further.
And it’s important to note that with bus rapid transit, the more you spend, the more you get. In Connecticut, a new 9.4 mile, $575 million bus rapid transit system from Hartford to New Britain will be full-fledged bus rapid transit with 11 new modern stations, a new busway along an abandoned rail right of way, level boarding for those with strollers or in wheelchairs, and fare payment before boarding. Meanwhile, in New York City, certain elements of bus rapid transit – like dedicated bus lanes – have been implemented in three corridors with very little capital cost.As has been well documented, no public transportation in the corridor is a problem now and will create a nightmare for future generations. The bridge is already at capacity and without transit, increased traffic will result throughout the corridor, essentially creating rush hour throughout most of the day, bringing more congestion and pollution into communities. Something must be done. Elected officials cannot continue to damage future generations for political expediency today. Thank you.