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Rider Reps Across MTA Region Agree: Transit Funding Must be Top Priority in Budget

From Long Island to New York City to the Hudson Valley, PCAC members call on legislators and Governor Hochul to come to an agreement on proposals to fund transit into the future

New York, NY: Feeling cautiously optimistic about the future of the MTA’s finances after last week’s release of One-House budgets that mirror the Executive Budget in support for transit – though through divergent means – the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA (PCAC) on Monday urged the state’s elected leaders to invest in the region’s transit network as the essential service it is. Serving as the official voice of riders on New York City’s subways, buses, and Staten Island Railway, LIRR, and Metro-North, members of the PCAC expressed their strong and enthusiastic support for proposals to fund transit in this year’s state budget, and encouraged leaders to come to an agreement. PCAC’s letter can be found here.

“In the New York region – as with the rest of the nation – reliance on the farebox is no longer a viable way to pay for transit,” said Gerard Bringmann, Chair of PCAC and the Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council, and MTA Board Member. “The urgency of the situation prompted our members to issue this call for the Governor, Senate Majority Leader, Assembly Speaker and their members to find a new funding model that ensures riders will not bear the brunt of looming shortfalls in the form of unaffordable fare hikes.”  

“Representing millions of riders not just within New York City, but from Montauk to Wassaic, PCAC members across the region united to call on their state elected leaders to fully fund the MTA as it faces a looming fiscal cliff,” said Andrew Albert, Chair of the NYC Transit Riders Council and MTA Board Member. “We’re thrilled that the Governor, State Senate, and State Assembly agree on the end goal—investing in transit both now and into the future—even while they continue to discuss the best way to get there.”

Randy Glucksman, Chair of the Metro-North Railroad Commuter Council and MTA Board Member, said, “Our number one priority is ensuring the long-term fiscal health of the MTA. Whether you ride on Metro-North East-of-Hudson or West-of-Hudson trains, on the LIRR, or on subways or buses, transit is an essential service that needs solid, reliable and sustainable operating funding for the long haul. We’re confident that our elected officials understand the importance of the MTA to the region and will come together to fund it for this year and many more to come.”

In their letter, PCAC members endorsed the Governor’s proposed PMT increase, which would impact only the top 5 percent of the region’s businesses. They noted that this would offer a more stable funding source than the One-House Corporate Franchise Tax proposals, but with the ultimate goal to secure significant, sustainable, and recurring funding dedicated to the MTA, both options will achieve that objective.

“An investment in our transit system is essential to the sustained economic recovery of the region, which is also beneficial to the entire state,” said Lisa Daglian, Executive Director of the PCAC. “Without dedicated operating revenue for the MTA, our entire state—and riders in particular— will suffer the costs.”

They specifically endorsed the following budget proposals that would fund and improve transit:

  • Repealing the Madison Square Garden tax exemption and allocating all future property tax revenues to the MTA
  • Allowing New York City the ability to implement a Residential Parking Permit program
  • Expanding automated camera enforcement for dedicated bus lanes (ABLE)
  • New York City funding for student MetroCards (and soon, OMNY cards)
  • Strengthening aggravated assault provisions for transit workers
  • Improving MTA data transparency through enhanced capital plan reporting
  • Expanding City Ticket and Atlantic Ticket to include the Far Rockaway LIRR station
  • Revising gaming legislation to allow casino proceeds to be dedicated to the MTA, as well as to education
  • Applying state and local sales taxes to digital streaming services
  • Establishing a statewide fee on delivery transactions

In addition, PCAC reiterated their enthusiastic support for Bill S00020/A00923, which will add four new voting members representing riders from PCAC’s three councils and the NYC Transit Paratransit Advisory Committee to the MTA Board. This critical legislation will ensure that riders—who currently hold three non-voting seats on the Board— are more effectively represented, giving them a powerful voice in the MTA’s decision‐making process.

Earlier in March, PCAC released its MTA operating funding tool, which offers a visual assessment of dozens of potential funding solutions for transit. The funding tool allows stakeholders to add up, mix and match, and evaluate various combinations of funding options, including those included in the Executive Budget and One-House Budget proposals, other proposed legislation from state elected officials, and potential new taxes and fees.

PCAC members closed their letter by stating, “Together, we can transform the MTA into a world‐class transit system that stands as a testament to our shared commitment to innovation, equity, accessibility, and sustainability.”