Press Release

Schumer, Gillibrand Announce $4.5 Million for Transit Upgrades for Ithaca – Funding Secured After Gillibrand Toured Ithaca Commons Earlier this Month

Jul 18, 2012

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $4.5 million in federal funding for transit upgrades for Ithaca. The federal investment was secured after Senator Gillibrand toured Ithaca Commons with Mayor Svante Myrick and Ithaca community and business leaders earlier this month. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) funding will be used to help rebuild Ithaca Commons as a community transit hub that would support a more efficient bus route between local colleges and universities and downtown.

After Senator Schumer met with Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick in March, his staff participated in a tour and briefing on the Ithaca Commons project and in April, Senator Schumer wrote a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood advocating for this crucial federal investment. 

“This DOT funding will propel Ithaca’s transit system into the 21st century while creating jobs and spurring economic development in the region,” said Schumer. “TCAT is not only focused on upgrading the system, but improving pedestrian walks and accessibility to electric car charging stations. These are the kind of changes that create infrastructure jobs, and encourage small businesses to flood the area. I applaud the DOT for choosing the Ithaca Commons project.”   

“Investing in transportation infrastructure is one of the fastest, most effective ways to create jobs now, and lay the foundation for more jobs tomorrow,” Senator Gillibrand said. “A fresh face for Ithaca Commons and building a new transit corridor with more choices for travelers has the potential to connect more of our workers, students and businesses, support job creation and help attract new businesses to get Ithaca’s economy on the move, while getting more cars off our roads to help protect the air we breathe and the water we drink.”

“The reconstruction of the Ithaca Commons and the creation of enhanced transit corridors from Downtown to Cornell and eventually Ithaca College are key components of our 2020 Downtown Development Strategy,” Executive Director of Downtown Ithaca Alliance, Gary Ferguson said. “These DOT funds will serve as catalysts for over $100 million in new transit oriented private development; that’s great leverage and a real deal for us all- for the federal DOT, the State of New York, Tompkins County, City of Ithaca residents, and of course downtown Ithaca.”  

Specifically, the federal funding Ithaca is set to receive through DOT’s State of Good Repair Grant Program will be used to update the transit system to meet a growing demand for service. The upgrades would include a rapid bus transit loop between downtown Ithaca and Cornell University. 

Senator Gillibrand’s letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood advocated for this investment is attached. Senator Schumer’s letter to Secretary LaHood appears below: 

April 3, 2012


The Honorable Raymond H. LaHood


U.S. Department of Transportation 

1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE

Washington, DC 20590


Dear Secretary: 

I am writing in support of the proposal submitted by Tompkins County, New York in cooperation with the City of Ithaca, Cornell University and Tompkins Area Transit (TCAT), for funding under the Bus and Bus Facilities – State of Good Repair Grant Program. Such funding will enable the Tompkins County to initiate its “Intermodal Transportation HUB –Accelerating Community Access” (ITHACA) project, which will connect the Downtown Ithaca transit loop to Cornell University. 

Located in the Finger Lakes region of New York, Ithaca serves as the urban center of Tompkins County. The area’s tourist attractions, world-class universities, and unique character have allowed Ithaca to remain a desirable place to live and work despite the deterioration of the Western New York’s regional economy. However despite Ithaca’s important regional role, the transportation system is in need of repair. 

With funding, Tompkins County will initiate its ITHACA project which will connect the Downtown Ithaca transit loop to Cornell University. Specifically, the project will reconstruct and rehabilitate the deteriorated surface of the Ithaca Commons. The rebuilt Commons will include improved bus signage and information surface improvements and safe lighting. The project will also enhance the existing TCAT system to better serve existing riders which will include the dedication of existing automobile routes to Bus Rapid Transit (BTR) lanes between downtown and Cornell, the rehabilitation of degraded pedestrian walkways, and the deployment of BTR and intelligent transportation system technology. I applaud Tompkins County and its partners for their foresight, and I sincerely hope the application meets with your approval.               

Thank you for your consideration. If you need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me.




Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator