Activists blast plan to divert $30M from MTA

By Philip Newman

Transit activists expressed disappointment Saturday that the state legislature’s new budget has no provision to prevent Gov. Andrew Cuomo from diverting $40 million in funds meant for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The only exception is that the budget reduces the amount in the transit package from $40 million to $30 million.

Details of the overall budget had not been released by Saturday afternoon.

Seven transit advocacy organizations had warned that treating the MTA like a piggy bank would put pressure on the agency to raise fares and reduce service to subways, buses and the commuter railroads.

“Today, Albany failed millions of subway, bus and commuter rail riders,” the transit advocates aid.

“Sadly, our elected officials leaders have sent a clear message that they can – and will –use the MTA as a piggy bank, siphoning dollars out of the pockets of transit riders.

They went on to point out that “despite budget resolutions by both houses that removed Gov. Cuomo’s ill-conceived raid on dedicated transit funds, the House and Senate failed to protect transit riders.”

The transit groups thank two Brooklyn legislators in particular for championing their cause, Assemblyman James Brennan and Sen. Martin Golden as well as the black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian caucuses.

In October the MTA is scheduled to present its five-year capital plan to the Legislature to cover an estimated gap of at least $15 billion for repairs to the transit system. The MTA also will be getting ready to hold hearings on the fifth fare hike in six years.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.