Straphangers, Pols Rally in Albany for Budget Funds  to Fix Subway System

Straphangers, Pols Rally in Albany for Budget Funds to Fix Subway System

Photo Courtesy of Riders Alliance

Subway and bus riders rallied at the State capitol on Monday with elected officials for a sustainable funding source and credible long-term plan to fix the subway.

By Michael V. Cusenza

Elected officials joined public transit advocates on Monday in Albany in a rally demanding that long-term funds to fix the crumbling city subway system be allocated in this year’s State Budget.

On the steps outside the Assembly chamber, subway and bus customers wore green T-shirts and carried signs imploring Gov. Andrew Cuomo to “Fix the Subway” and “Fund Public Transit.”

“This budget season, Gov. Cuomo needs to end the transit crisis that is undermining New Yorkers’ ability to get around the city,” said Rebecca Bailin, campaign manager for the Riders Alliance, a leading straphanger advocacy group that organized Monday’s event. “Subway riders are beyond tired of packed subway cars. Signal problems, track malfunctions and tunnel fires slow commutes, cause sick people to miss doctors’ appointments and parents their children’s school events. Only a substantial infusion of new revenue from a sustainable, progressive source can modernize the subway signal system and purchase new subway cars.”

On Monday, rally speakers chastised Cuomo for releasing a Preliminary Executive Budget last month that did not outline long-term transit funding.

“Our mass transit system is at a critical juncture due to years of neglect and underfunding. Now that there is a broad consensus on the need for additional resources, we cannot squander this opportunity to achieve a real solution,” said State Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria). “The budget process cannot be allowed to conclude without a sustainable and dedicated funding stream for our subways and buses.”

In January, Cuomo’s Fix NYC Advisory Panel – a mix of community representatives, government officials, and business leaders from across the region tasked with developing recommendations to address the severe traffic congestion problems in Manhattan’s central business district and identify sources of long-term, sustainable revenue to modernize public transit – released its highly anticipated report that endorses a congestion-pricing plan to relax traffic bottlenecks on Midtown Manhattan streets and help subsidize the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s overhaul of the city’s antiquated subway system.

The Riders Alliance came out in support of the Fix NYC plan that could raise $1.5 billion annually. But the group said this week that true change in public transportation in the five boroughs needs to start immediately.

“It is up to the governor to put these recommendations into his budget proposal now before the Legislature,” RA noted.

And many lawmakers agreed.

“Straphangers deserve a reliable system and not another ‘summer of hell’ that can transform itself into years of chaos,” added State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst).

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