By Philip Newman
Transit advocates and elected officials have called for the state Legislature to block Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to divert $40 million designated for the cash-strapped MTA, contending it would otherwise bring more fare hikes and service cuts rather than a new era of transit riders.
“Forty million dollars could make a real difference in the commuting lives of hundreds of thousands of transit riders,” said Gene Russianoff, attorney for the transit advocacy agency Straphangers Campaign.
Straphangers Campaign and the Riders Alliance released an analysis detailing service improvements that could be made if the state Assembly and state Senate are successful in blocking Cuomo’s proposal to take $40 million now designated for mass transit.
The legislators and transit advocates used the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s own estimates for cost savings achieved during the massive 2010 round of service cuts.
They concluded that if the Assembly and Senate bring about restoration of the $40 million, the MTA could make the following improvements:
• Restore mid-day nighttime and weekend service that were reduced on the Nos. 1 and 7 and A, F, J, L and M lines in 2010, bringing shorter waits for 300,000 riders every weekday and 285,000 riders every weekend. ($3.1 million)
• Add 20 percent more morning rush hour service on the notoriously infrequent and crowded C train. ($1 million)
• Restore G train service to Forest Hills-71st Avenue in Queens. ($1.5 million)
• Restore W train one-seat service from Astoria to lower Manhattan. ($34 million)
• Add four new local daytime and three new weekend routes in the Bronx. ($4.2 million)
• Add three new local bus routes and implement weekend hours for three weekday-only routes in Brooklyn. ($4.7 million)
• Add three bus routes and implement weekend hours for two weekday routes in Manhattan. ($4.7 million)
• Add three new bus routes with weekday and weekend hours in Queens. ($6.9 million)
• Add three new weekend routes and three new peak-hour routes in Staten Island. ($3 million)
• Add six new Long Island Rail Road rush hour trains every weekday. ($2.2 million)
• Add 10 new LIRR trains every weekend day. ($400,000)
• Add cars to Metro-North Railroad trains to reduce crowding on the Harlem, Hudson and New Haven lines. ($2.7 million)
• Add two daily Metro-North trains each on the Harlem, Hudson and New Haven lines. ($1.9 million)
As for fares, advocates pointed out that the funds could instead be used to reduce MTA plans to increase fares in 2015 and 2017.
State Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) said, “The proposal to deprive the transit system of $40 million is a nonstarter. This intended raid would only necessitate further and more dramatic fare raises.”
The lawmakers passed anti-raid legislation, but the governor vetoed it, saying it would go toward paying debts.
The Legislature’s final budget is under negotiation this week and is due at the end of March.
Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 718-260-4536.