Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Schumer and Nadler Tip o' The Spear For Transit

From Bloomberg:
The Democrat’s amendment to the bill would increase funding to $14.9 billion from $8.4 billion, including $2 billion for capital transportation needs, $2 billion for railways and $2.5 billion for new transit projects.

The extra funding may mean hundreds of millions dollars more for New York City transportation, Schumer said. The region typically gets about a fifth or more of federal transportation spending, he said.

“We want to make sure that this stimulus plan helps mass transit as well as highways,” Schumer said in a press conference outside Grand Central Terminal today. “We all know how important it is to help mass transit; it’s the lifeblood of our metropolitan area.”
I'd like to see more efforts like this from the rest of our delegation.

Bear in mind, these funds are strictly for capital improvements . . . this will do nothing to plug the gap in the operating budget. For that we need our City and State elected officials to act.

Mayor Bloomberg and City Council members: Act now to transfer the city-owned bridges to the MTA so that all river crossings can be tolled at parity. This would (1) raise vital reliable funds for transit, (2) reduce traffic congestion and (3) eliminate perverse incentives for motorists to avoid, e.g. the Battery Tunnel and create traffic bottlenecks at free crossings such as the Brooklyn Bridge.

Governor Paterson, State Senators and Assembly Members: Bring back the commuter tax and dedicate these funds expressly for transit and retirement of transit-related debts, when possible. Enact legislation to allow NYC to institute a residential parking permit program, again with permit fees dedicated to transit.

The MTA has plenty of faults, but the root cause of the current crisis was the failure of the State and City to adequately fund capital needs. Instead, MTA investments were paid for with debt, and that debt burden is now crushing the MTA. Thank you, George Pataki, Rudy Giuliani, and yes, Mike Bloomberg.

We are at a crisis point; we need our politicians to step up and show some real leadership on this issue. Otherwise, as one less than venerable statesman put it in another context, this sucker's going down.

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