United States Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand introduced today an emergency transit bill that would restore major reductions in public transit services and stave off future fare hikes imposed on commuters throughout the New York City subway system, Long Island Railroad, and Metro North Railroad. Under existing transit formulas, the NYC-NJ-CT urbanized area would be in line to receive roughly $345 million.
“Mass transit is the very lifeblood of the New York and our ability to rebuild the economy and get people back to work is linked to a fully funded and affordable system,” said Schumer. “In a time of crisis, when funding for mass transit has collapsed and caused severe service cuts, layoffs and looming fare hikes, it is essential that we take strong action to ensure the middle class can afford to use public transit. ”
“Commuters in New York are outraged by the fare hikes and service cuts that are being considered right now,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This emergency funding is badly needed to maintain strong and affordable transit systems that get workers to work, students to school, and keep our economy moving.”
MTA service cuts have begun to be phased in over the last several weeks and additional cuts are expected to continue into June. Last week, the Long Island Railroad eliminated service to its Belmont Station and reduced the number of trains that arrive on the eight trains on the Babylon, Long Beach, Port Jefferson, and Port Washington branches. Budget woes will force the elimination of the M Train and dozens of service cuts and bus line eliminations throughout the five boroughs. The MTA is currently facing a deficit of $400 million. State funding for the mass transit system was reduced in 2010 by $143 million.
The Public Transportation Preservation Act would provide $2 billion in emergency assistance for operating expenses necessary to restore a major reduction in public transportation service and to hold off future fare increases due to decreased state or local funding that occurred on or after January 1, 2009. Funding would be distributed through existing formulas. It is expected that the NYC-NJ-CT urbanized area would receive $345.25 million. The Act will help transit agencies avoid or minimize future service reduction and fare increases that are being contemplated through the end of FY 2011.