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Testimony to the NY City Council Committees on Finance and Transportation and Infrastructure

Committee on Finance Jointly with the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

Good morning! I’m Brian Fritsch, Associate Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA (PCAC). PCAC was created by the state legislature in 1981 to be The Official Voice of Riders on subways, buses, the LIRR, Metro-North, and Staten Island Railway.

Transit riders have much to be thankful for following this year’s New York State budget. We’re looking forward to increased investment in the MTA, progress towards major capital projects like the Interborough Express and Second Avenue Subway, and common-sense laws like Sammy’s Law that finally gives New York City control over its own speed limit. Now, we’re looking forward to seeing even more proposals in the city budget that can help improve mobility around the five boroughs.

We’re particularly thankful for the City Council’s support for extending the eligibility criteria for Fair Fares to 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, and hope that it gets over the finish line this year. Access to half-price fares is a game changer for low-income New Yorkers, but at its current eligibility threshold, far too few actually qualify. Raising the eligibility cap to 200% would help ensure that the working poor—including the many New Yorkers living paycheck to paycheck or making minimum wage—can finally qualify for this critical program. PCAC also hopes to see Fair Fares extended to the LIRR and Metro-North within New York City, so that low-income riders can afford faster trips on the commuter railroads.

Particularly as we prepare for congestion pricing to begin, riders need DOT and Mayor Adams to invest in meaningful expansion of the bus lane network. We’re thrilled about the recent expansion of Automated Camera Enforcement that will help keep cars and trucks out of dedicated bus lanes and hope to see the city reach the Streets Plan’s legal requirement of 150 miles of new bus lanes by the end of next year. Unfortunately, there’s a long way to go after previous targets were missed. We’re happy to see any progress, but riders around the city know that more can be done to keep their buses out of traffic and improve on the woeful 8 miles per hour they currently travel, which is the worst performance in the nation. Thank you.