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Next Stop: Austerity Cuts for NYC Transit Riders

New York, NY – Congressional representatives are being urged to support federal funding for public transit operations throughout the city. Public officials, riders, workers and advocates rallied at the 86th Street subway stop in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn on August 3, waving signs to call attention to the urgent issue.

“Time is running out for New York Riders.” — Riders Alliance Executive Director Betsy Plum addresses this week’s rally in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

Senator Andrew Gounardes, Assembly Member Mathylde Frontus and Council Member Justin Brannan, as well as members  of the Riders Alliance, Straphangers Campaign, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA (PCAC) and the Transit Workers Union [TWU] were all on hand to elicit the support of  transit riders.

At issue, is the federal aid for more trains and buses that is set to expire in two years. Without those special pandemic funds, the MTA will have to slash services. Advocates hoping to avert that disaster are rallying behind H.R.3744 as federal transportation and infrastructure bills are negotiated.

“Transit is the lifeline of New York City, and a significant driver of economic growth in our communities,” Senator Andrew Gounardes said in Bay Ridge. “If we don’t act now, the MTA will face unprecedented fiscal and economic challenges. To avoid fare hikes, service cuts, and job losses, we need the federal government to take action and pass the Stronger Communities Through Better Transit Act to bring home $3 billion for high quality and dependable buses, trains, and paratransit. It’s time we rescue the MTA from the financial toll of the pandemic.”

Riders Alliance Executive Director Betsy Plum said, “Time is running out for New York riders.”

“Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Representative Malliotakis need to deliver for Bay Ridge commuters,” Plum continued. “New Yorkers can’t afford steep cuts to bus and subway lines just as we’re getting back on our feet after the pandemic. Instead of austerity, we need our Congressional leaders to recognize public transit’s central role in our communities and invest in more and better service.” 

Once pandemic aid expires in two years, the MTA will face a growing, multi-billion dollar budget gap. Last summer, as Congress debated a second round of pandemic aid, MTA officials outlined ‘doomsday’ service cuts of 40-50% that would have saved about $1 billion. With ridership projected to back only to 80% by 2024, riders need new revenue to fill the gap, keep fares down, and save frequent bus and train service.

Atlanta Rep. Hank Johnson’s Stronger Communities Through Better Transit Act would create a new $20 billion annual fund to support transit operations nationwide. The MTA, by far the nation’s largest transit system, could expect to receive $3 billion annually. Likely enough to fill its budget gap and take fare hikes, service cuts, and job losses off the table, and. instead, provide new investments in better service for the communities that need it most.

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