October 26, 2022

Gillibrand Announces Resilient Transit Act To Protect Subways And Public Transit Systems From Extreme Weather Events

Ten Years After Superstorm Sandy, New Legislation Would Help Protect NYC Subways From Flooding, Storm Damage

Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand held a press conference outside the subway station at the corner of 28th St and 7th Ave to announce the release of her new bill, the Resilient Transit Act of 2022. As extreme weather events become more common and pose a growing threat to our transit infrastructure, the Resilient Transit Act would provide millions in federal funding to help public transit agencies take proactive steps to protect subways and other transit systems from flooding, storm surges, extreme heat, and other climate impacts.

 

Gillibrand was joined by MTA Senior Advisor for Federal Policy Naomi Renek, Vice President for Transportation of the Regional Plan Association Tiffany Ann Taylor, and Riders Alliance Executive Director Betsy Plum.

"Nearly ten years ago, Superstorm Sandy crippled the New York City subway, leaving millions of commuters without a reliable way to get around,” said Senator Gillibrand. “We’ve all seen videos of water cascading down subway stairs and commuters wading through stations with water up to their waist; we can't wait until the next devastating storm to fix the weaknesses in our transit system that these storms have exposed. That's why today I'm releasing the Resilient Transit Act. This bill will help the MTA and transit agencies across the country make proactive upgrades to subways, trains, buses and ferries so that they can recover quickly from severe weather events and natural disasters and continue to provide the services millions rely on each day. New Yorkers deserve a transit system that can weather any storm, and today we are one step closer to making that a reality.” 

“I am proud to join Senator Gillibrand in introducing legislation that establishes the first dedicated source of Federal funding to help bolster the resiliency of public transportation systems throughout our state amid the growing impacts of climate change,” said Representative Adriano Espaillat (NY-13). “Recent extreme weather events have proven to each of us that we cannot take for granted the importance of shoring up the integrity of public transportation systems all around us. The Resilient Transit Act will infuse critical investments into our infrastructure systems now—for those critical moments when we need it the most.” 

“With climate change, we are seeing more extreme weather that can wreak damage on the transit system, disrupt travel, and impact the region’s economy,” said Janno Lieber, MTA Chair and CEO. “This bill would provide ongoing funding for resiliency measures to protect the system. MTA has made great progress in this area, but we have much more to do, and additional dedicated funding for resiliency would be extremely helpful. 

"New York's recovery is only as strong as the resiliency of the transit system that millions of New Yorkers depend on," said Riders Alliance Executive Director Betsy Plum. "Ten years after Superstorm Sandy, with increasing risks of extreme heat and rainfall and the constant threat of sea level rise, transit resiliency is essential to our common future. Riders are grateful to Senator Gillibrand for championing new funding that will make our transit system and our city stronger."

“Regional Plan Association (RPA) proudly supports the Resilient Transit Act as championed by Senator Gillibrand. Protecting our infrastructure from more extreme weather events is an important investment in mobility as a public benefit,” said Tom Wright, President, Regional Plan Association. “RPA has long advocated for new and effective ways to fund climate adaptation projects and continues to sound the alarm on the need to integrate environmental sustainability in our region's infrastructure. Dedicated funding for resiliency improvements is key to adapt to climate change and the future growth of the region.”

“Ten years after Superstorm Sandy, too many New Yorkers have seen little reprieve from the constant flood of stormwater that turns our subway stations into waterfalls and our streets into swimming pools,” said New York State Senator John Liu. “Dedicating funding to resiliency improvement projects through the Resilient Transit Act will help to more accurately target long-standing vulnerabilities in our infrastructure and identify the best fix for current and future weather events or natural disasters. Thanks to Senator Gillibrand for her commitment to ensuring the integrity of our public transportation.

"Ten years ago, Hurricane Sandy devastated New York. This included our city's public transportation system, which millions of commuters rely on daily," said Assemblymember Manny De Los Santos, MSW. "Thank you Senator Gillibrand for fighting for funding to make transportation more resilient."

Extreme weather events can be devastating to public transit and other infrastructure. In 2012, Superstorm Sandy caused an estimated $5 billion worth of damage to the NYC subway system and resulted in weeks-long shut downs of some stations and lines. The storm also damaged Amtrak’s East River tunnels, which carry Amtrak and LIRR lines, affecting commuter lines into Manhattan. In recent years, subway stations across the city, including Dyckman Street Station, 28th Street Station, and Third Avenue-149th Street Station, have experienced flooding during instances of heavy rainfall. 

The Resilient Transit Act would add an additional source of funding to the Federal Transit Administration’s State of Good Repair Grants Program that is specifically for resilience improvement projects. This legislation would authorize $300 million for each of fiscal years 2023 through 2026 for resilience improvement grants and apportion those funds in accordance with the existing State of Good Repair formula. Recipients would be able to use the funds to finance stand-alone resilience improvement projects or resilience improvement components of larger projects carried out under the State of Good Repair Grants Program. Buses, light rail, ferries, commuter rail, street cars, and subways would be eligible to receive funding under the Resilient Transit Act. 

The Resilient Transit Act is co-sponsored by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Representative Adriano Espaillat (D-NY-13) leads the bill in the House. The American Society of Civil Engineers, the Riders Alliance, and the Regional Plan Association have endorsed the bill.