Increase Investment in Transit to Grow Jobs and the Economy, Address Climate Change, and Improve Social Equity
When COVID-19 emerged in New York and so much was put on pause or shut down, transit systems throughout the state responded quickly to the crisis, transporting essential workers, and providing a lifeline to access jobs, food, and health care. Our efforts kept the economy moving and are a vital key to its recovery, which is why we are calling on Governor Cuomo, the Senate, and the Assembly to not just restore our funding but increase it by 10% in the final 2021-22 budget.
Like many businesses across the state, New York’s public transit systems face a challenging long-term fiscal situation because of the pandemic. In addition to state operating assistance payments being reduced over the past year, we saw immediate and significant losses of ridership and revenue. At the same time, our budgets absorbed the increased costs of protective equipment for employees, and enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of vehicles and facilities.
Thanks to the leadership of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and the members of New York’s Congressional delegation, the federal government provided funding that is making it possible for our transit systems to maintain service as we navigate the pandemic. We also thank Governor Cuomo and members of the Senate and Assembly for supporting increased transit funding in the past few budgets. As more people are vaccinated and more businesses resume normal operation, it will be more important than ever that they have access to robust transit service that ensures safe, reliable mobility. That is why more funding is needed.
Transit remained open during the pandemic to serve essential workers and we are ready to expand mobility options so our communities can reopen, recover, and grow. Robust transit service supports growth in the economy and jobs, addresses climate change, improves social equity, and moves people from poverty to prosperity. Accelerating investment in transit will accelerate these benefits.
Bill Carpenter is the CEO of the Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority and President of the New York Public Transit Association.