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Capital Committee Testimony- What’s the Plan, Governor Hochul?

“East Harlem has dreamed of transit access for decades — and we’re committed to getting the job done.”

“I’m committed to improving accessibility across the MTA and ensuring the disability community has a voice and a seat at the table in deciding the future of transit in New York.”

“New train cars, additional security cameras and more reliable service will make the subway system even better for decades to come.”

All these are statements made by Governor Hochul, formerly MTA riders’ best friend. Now it feels like we’re estranged roommates.

We don’t have to think back to 2017 to understand the consequences of transit disinvestment. Just look west towards our friends in New Jersey, who saw three consecutive days of meltdowns on NJ Transit as our region experienced three consecutive days of air quality alerts – even as their fares are set to go up 15% on July 1.

Now, with an indefinite pause and no plan to close a $15 billion hole in the capital plan, much less address gridlock traffic or street safety, air quality issues and climate change concerns, New Yorkers are staring down a status quo we know all too well: disinvestment in the MTA system and despair for the riders across the region who count on it.

This not only gouges a $15 billion dollar hole in the MTA’s capital plan, including $3 billion for the commuter rails, it puts billions of dollars of hard-fought federal funds in jeopardy, and destabilizes the historic agreement on operating funding reached during last year’s state budget – potentially leading to layoffs, more drastic fare increases, and service cuts.

Transit is the lifeblood of our city and a climate solution, but you get what you pay for, and nothing gets cheaper the longer you wait. We’re told everything will be fine, that $15 billion will materialize out of our imaginations. But we can’t have it both ways. As Jamie always says, you cannot award contracts without a revenue source, and without Congestion Pricing there is no source and no plan B. So, Governor Hochul, riders deserve to know, what’s your plan? When will you unpause the pause and get the MTA and its riders back on track?