Schumer Vows To Fight House Bill Trimming NY Transit Funding
On a conference call with reporters, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer launched his effort to restore mass transit funding cuts passed by the House of Representatives last week.
Schumer Vows he'll fight “tooth-and-nail” to restore funding cuts after a $325 billion highway funding bill would take $95 million in annual federal aid for mass-transit in New York and other Northeastern states and distribute it across the nation.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs Metro-North commuter railroad, the Long Island Rail Road and the New York City subway system, received $84.8 million in 2014 under the the 5340 Program, a.k.a. the 'High Density States Program.' MTA stands to take the biggest hit if the cuts go through.
The amendment to end the so-called “Northeast regional preference” was offered by Republican Washington Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler. Here she is speaking on the House Floor: "It's an issue of fairness, Mr. Speaker. The idea that seven states have available to them more money than all fifty states combined, isn't fair to the committees in my state or yours, or in the other 43 states."
Schumer argues that half the trips on mass transit in the country are taken in New York state, and says transit authorities have already budgeted in the expectation of receiving funding. He stresses both upstate and downstate New York suffer negative impacts if the funding is eliminated. "New York City, Long Island and Hudson Valley, the MTA receives 71 million. In addition, other agencies in the Hudson Valley, like Westchester, Rockland, all the way up to Middletown and Poughkeepsie, receive 4.1 million. Long island, in addition to the MTA, received 2.3 million. Capital Region, 2.5 million. Central New York, 2 million. Western New York, 3.6 million. Rochester-Finger Lakes 2.7 million, Southern Tier 1 million, North Country 475-thousand."
Schumer may get some help to save the funding from the other side of the aisle - Oneida County Congressman Richard Hanna is on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and is reportedly trying to lead Northeastern lawmakers in a protest over the proposal to cut the program.
Capital District Transportation Authority CEO Carm Basile says his agency is in the advocacy/lobbying mode. He warns cuts could reduce service."I can't tell ya exactly what would happen, but we would have to quickly review our service complement and review our capital plan and decide how we would reduce our budget by two and a half million dollars accordingly. Most likely our services would need to be reviewed. And there's likely to be less service if this were to happen, than if it didn't happen. That's not good for people who use buses."
Dutchess County Transit officials could not be reached for comment.
Schumer is therefore pledging to work with the Senate and House conferees, who will negotiate the final bill, to immediately restore this funding for the 5340 High Density States program. Schumer said these seven states and the District of Columbia could see funding cut by roughly $1.6 billion over the next six years if this funding is not restored in the final bill that is passed by both the House and Senate. Some transit agencies would see their overall apportionments cut by nearly one-third. Schumer explained that because this funding is calculated based on Urbanized Areas rather than states, New York and New Jersey – which are coupled together in this funding apportionment – could lose an estimated $140 million each year. After receiving this funding, the two states then issue a memorandum of understanding (MOU) stating how this funding will be split up. Specifically, New York State stands to lose the roughly $100 million of this $140 million it was set to receive in additional federal transit dollars if this program is not restored at full funding.
Schumer said these urbanized areas, small and large, across New York State face unparalleled congestion that cannot be addressed by building new highway infrastructure alone, meaning areas Upstate and Downstate will be negatively impacted if this funding is not restored.
In 2014, New York State received $94,405,053 from the FTA’s Section 5340 High Density States program:
· New York City, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley received a combined $71,725,257 in federal funding, through the MTA, under the High Density States program in 2014 (this total includes some limited service to other areas within the UAZ including CT, and NJ).
o In addition, a number of smaller transit services that also service that region received a combined $9,572,674, under the High Density States Program in 2014.
§ NYCDOT - $4,852,420
§ Westchester - $1,378,314
§ Rockland - $575,871
§ Putnam - $103,846
§ Nassau – $1,567,124
§ Suffolk – $1,095,099
· The Capital Region received a total of $2,542,667 in federal funding under the High Density States program in 2014.
o Albany-Schenectady, NY – $2,295,369
o Saratoga Springs, NY – $247,298
· Central New York received a total of $2,043,375 in federal funding under the High Density States program in 2014.
o Syracuse, NY – $1,590,723
o Utica, NY – $452,652
· Western New York received a total of $3,610,734 in federal funding under the High Density States program in 2014.
o Buffalo, NY – $3,610,734
· The Rochester-Finger Lakes Region received a total of $2,779,973 in federal funding under the High Density States program in 2014.
o Rochester, NY – $2,779,973
· The Southern Tier received a total of $1,069,849 in federal funding under the High Density States program in 2014.
o Binghamton, NY—PA – $600,545
o Elmira, NY – $262,279
o Ithaca, NY – $207,025
· The North Country received a total of $475,627 in federal funding under the High Density States program in 2014.
o Glens Falls, NY – $252,480
o Watertown, NY – $223,147
Schumer said these cuts would be devastating for New York and mass transit overall. Therefore, he is urging his conferees to reject the short-sighted House provision and recede to the Senate position that provides full funding to the 5340 program.