Fund Public Transportation!

June 4, 2016

40 Transit Riders and Transportation Advocates Rally for Passage of Move NY Fair Plan

Over 40 people rallied in Astoria, handed out “$2.50 dollar bills” to drivers crossing the Triborough Bridge to signify potential savings under MoveNY

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Queens, NY – With the end of the legislative session in Albany around the corner, legislative cosponsors and supporters of the MoveNY Fair Plan rallied to discuss how the bill would address problems with unsustainable public transit funding, congested roadways, and New York’s crumbling transit infrastructure.

Rallying in the shadow of the RFK Triborough Bridge, participants pointed out that that bridge is one of five in Queens that would see a reduction in tolls if Move NY were to pass. To that end, supporters handed out $2.50 “dollar bills” to motorists to educate them about the cost reduction they could expect under the Move NY tolling plan.  They estimated that drivers crossing the Triborough bridge would have saved a total of $21,350 over the course of the 1 hour action. Other advocates held a banner that said, “Move NY Can Save the Day!” with “#getNYMoving” and the website “”

At another station, pedestrians and transit riders stopped by to “vote” for the transit projects they would like to see in their neighborhoods. The MoveNY Fair Plan has a provision called the Transit Gap Improvement Fund (TGIF), which would bring more local control to community districts over decisions related to transit projects.  Passersby voted for a pedestrian plaza on 30th Avenue in Astoria, various station improvements, extended G train to Queensboro Plaza, a new tri-borough subway line connecting Brooklyn the Bronx, and Queens, new Select Bus Service routes, and pedestrian and cyclist safety improvements on 21st street, Astoria, Norther, and Queens Boulevards, and more.

Boris Santos, Williamsburg resident and Riders Alliance member, who teaches special education in Far Rockaway, spoke about his colleague who currently avoids the Marine Parkway because of the high toll, despite it being the more direct route home.  “Ms. Glasgow regularly avoids taking the shorter route to Brooklyn by crossing the Marine Parkway Bridge. Instead, she almost always travels around the JFK airport on the Belt Parkway,” Santos said. “Like most New Yorkers, she cannot afford to pay the toll everyday on the Marine Parkway Bridge that would make her commute more efficient.”

The Move NY Fair Plan would also fund real investments in infrastructure, generating nearly $1.5 billion annually to fix roads, bridges, and public transit infrastructure. It comes in light of continued uncertainty over how exactly Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to fund the MTA 2015-19 Capital Plan, which received final state approval in May. Currently the bill has 28 Assembly sponsors, and 12 days remain for lawmakers to approve the Move NY Fair Plan this year.

“In an era of crumbling infrastructure and unreliable action in Albany and Washington to fund repairs and expansion of transportation issues, the MoveNY Plan is a much needed breath of fresh air. We need reliable and dedicated transportation dollars for the Metropolitan area, the current legislation put forward in the Assembly based on Sam Schwartz’s MoveNY Plan can do just that,” said John Maier, Queens Community Board 5 members and Ridgewood resident.

“MoveNY offers us the much needed chance to reorganize the incentive systems on our roadways,” said Astoria resident Macartney Morris, Riders Alliance member and Astoria resident. “I look forward to the day when motorists do not unnecessarily divert their routes through Astoria and Long Island City—bringing congestion, pollution and often unsafe speeding—on their way to the ‘free bridge.’”

“As a teacher, I devote myself to closing the educational gap between higher-income and lower-income students. This work, for me, embodies the essence of fairness. NYC not only has an educational gap, but also a transportation gap. Move NY will not only get NY moving, but it will also make travel for all of us New more fair,” said Boris Santos, Riders Alliance member, Williamsburg resident, special education teacher in Far Rockaway.

“How many crowded, sweaty, and delayed train rides do New Yorkers have to take before the MTA finally gets the resources it needs?” asked Colin Wright, a Brooklyn resident and Riders Alliance member. “Move NY is exactly the solution we’re waiting on: a way to make sure the MTA is sustainably funded.”

“Move NY’s Transit Gap Investment Fund would give New Yorkers an unprecedented say about which transportation projects are most urgently in need of funding, and that’s especially important for communities that are not well served by the transit system” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “The Fair Plan would give Queens residents new resources to invest in proposed transit improvements like Select Bus Service routes, a newTriboro RX subway line, and discounts for commuters who use the Long Island Railroad within New York City.”

“The communities that will benefit the most from MoveNY are Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and Hunters Point, since they are flanked by two toll crossings with one ‘free’ bridge in the middle. Every day 40-50,000 cars, trucks, buses and taxis avoid the tolls of the RFK Bridge and Queens Midtown Tunnel and use the streets of those neighborhoods.  MoveNY is about safety, improving air quality, reducing traffic congestion and fairness for both drivers and transit riders.  Drivers at the bridge right behind Columbus Triangle (RFK), and every other tolled bridge within the 5 boroughs will see their tolls slashed 40-45%,” said Sam “Gridlock” Schwartz, MoveNY Engineer.

“I am proud to stand with Riders Alliance and Transportation Alternatives to support the MoveNY legislation. I commend Assemblymember Robert Rodriguez for his leadership and will be actively working with him to ensure the passage of this legislation. The MoveNY legislation will lead to more methods of transit and increased access to quality jobs, schools and healthcare. Through this investment, MoveNY will create new select bus routes in the Bronx, a combined monthly pass for commuter rail, subway, and bus rides, more than 30,000 new jobs and countless other economic opportunities for millions of New Yorkers. This is an important step in achieving our vision of Economic Development, Education, and Equality for All. Together, we will fight for this legislation so Bronxites, commuters, business owners, and all of our residents can share in all the prosperity that New York City has to offer,” said Assembly Member Michael Blake of Bronx.

“Mass transit in New York has been underfunded for far too long, and it’s time to make the subway, bus, and rail transportation safer, faster, and more reliable for everyone. By rationalizing the system by which motor vehicles pay tolls, we’ll be able to speed traffic flow, help reduce congestion and air pollution, and provide a dedicated funding stream for New York’s public transportation networks,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried of Manhattan.

“Assembly Bill A.9633, the new Move NY plan, represents an essential step in revamping public transportation in New York City. This bill will provide a much needed consistent revenue stream for our mass transit system, which is in decline despite the continued fare increases of the past few years. Through statutorily dedicated funds for Queens County, this bill goes beyond the vague promises that came with the last congestion pricing plan from a few years ago, offering a tangible path to change for this system. For these reasons, I have decided to co-sponsor A.9633, and commend my fellow Assemblymembers for their efforts in making the new Move NY plan a reality,” said Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi of Queens.

“Developments in expanding service and improving accessibility of our transit system are imperative for countless New Yorkers. Through this legislation, secured sustainable transit funding will advance local projects, profoundly needed throughout neighborhoods in the five boroughs,” said Assembly Member Guillermo Linares of Manhattan.

“As Brooklyn moves forward into the 21st century our public transportation must keep pace with the increasing demand for fast, efficient, and reliable service. We have seen an exponential increase of new members to our communities of central Brooklyn, which in turn has put higher stress on our aging transportation system. Crowded platforms, dirty stations, and delay in services can no longer define outer borough service. I am proud to work in collaboration with my colleagues in the State Legislature to implement the Move NY plan and ensure that our mass transit system is properly and equitably funded,” said Assemblyman Walter T. Mosley of Brooklyn.

“The Move NY Plan initiative will create a sustainable funding stream for the MTA and improve transportation for Brooklyn residents in many ways, including a new Triboro Subway Line to connect Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx with Bay Ridge, expanded Brooklyn ferry service, more select buses, and affordable “freedom ticket” rail and bus passes. The Move NY Plan is estimated to create more than 30,000 local, annually recurring jobs in the metropolitan region. I support this effort,” Said Assembly Member and Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz of Brooklyn.

“I’m happy to lend my support to the Riders Alliance and Transportation Alternatives in their efforts to educate mass transit riders and the public in general on issues relating to the mass transportation system here in New York City.  It is vital that the mass transit system has the proper level of funding to provide clean, safe and reliable transportation for all riders.  It is important that the system remain affordable to all its riders.  These and other issues are what my colleagues and I in Albany will continue to advocate for.  These issues are too important,” said Assembly Member Annette Robinson of Brooklyn.

“I commend Transportation Alternatives and Riders Alliance for their innovative ideas and advocacy for the betterment of our transit system. I stand with riders in my district on the Upper East Side, Yorkville and Roosevelt Island, and across the city, in support of a the MoveNY Fair Plan, a plan that will increase revenue by 1.35 billion dollars a year and provide a better ride for all. We need to meet the funding needs of our transit systems that have evolved, and we need to prevent congestion on our roads and trains. We only stand to benefit from prioritizing transit and keeping all parts of the City and State accessible to all,” said Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright of Manhattan.

“With my Assembly district, and the borough of the Bronx, home to a large number of poor and working class citizens, I support educating the public to the serious need—and equitable means—for bringing badly needed improvements to mass transportation for our city and region. As part of this proposed Move NY legislation, along with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plan to build four new Metro-North stations in The Bronx under its 2015-2019 capital program, the Bronx and its citizens will be well served, with much needed upgrades to its transit system, roads and bridges, along with commuter ferry service, new express bus routes and a reduction in what are now some of the highest commute times in the nation,” said Assembly Member Luis Sepulveda of the Bronx.

“MoveNY would both encourage better mass transit service to underserved neighborhoods while discouraging gratuitous traffic through our communities and fixing our roads and bridges, bringing much needed rationality and equity to our dysfunctional and inequitable toll system. I’m happy that Riders Alliance and Transportation Alternatives are engaging with the community to educate them on the benefits of this plan,” said Assembly Member Jo Ann Simon of Brooklyn.

“For too long, the unique transportation needs of individual neighborhoods and boroughs have been ignored. The MoveNY is a step in the right direction towards getting the Second Avenue Subway and other transit projects funded to completion. Let’s continue working together to make the transit system fairer and more accessible for all New Yorkers,” said Assembly Member Dan Quart of Manhattan.


Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

Riders Alliance Statement on F Train Express

On Tuesday, the MTA announced it would begin running express trains on the F line in Brooklyn during rush hour, speeding up commutes for riders traveling between southern Brooklyn and Manhattan. In order to run express trains, the MTA also announced that it will have to reduce service on the local F line in Brooklyn. The Riders Alliance released the following statement in response:

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“The MTA shouldn’t have to choose between providing local and express service for F train riders. Instead, the MTA should have the funding it needs to run good service for everyone who relies on the subway,” said John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance. “Crowding is out of control; meanwhile, our elected officials fiddle while the MTA’s five-year capital program waits for approval in Albany. Governor Cuomo has promised billions of dollars for public transit infrastructure, but he hasn’t said when he will deliver the funds. We should be accelerating infrastructure investments, not pushing them off to an uncertain date in the future. Where’s the funding? This isn’t a question for New York City Transit; it’s a question riders should be asking Governor Cuomo and members of the State Legislature.”


Friday, March 25, 2016

In New Web Video, Riders Alliance Reveals Who’s Really Responsible for Transit Delays and Overcrowding: Governor Cuomo

Subway and bus riders’ organization’s video tells New Yorkers that to see improvements in public transit, riders should join Twitter and Facebook campaign directed @NYGovCuomo with #CuomosMTA

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New York, NY – On Friday, Riders Alliance, the grassroots organization of subway riders, released a short animated video addressing the dramatic rise in overcrowding on public transit in the NYC area and a corresponding decline in service. In the video, which the group published shortly before the Governor and Legislature release their annual budget, they point out that it is the State—and the Governor—who bear ultimate responsibility for the MTA.

Riders are pointing the finger at Governor Andrew Cuomo due to his proposal that New York State allocate $0 in new funds to this year’s budget to pay for the MTA’s 2015-2019 Capital Program, which funds maintenance, improvements, and expansions to our public transit. Last month, 36 Assembly members signed a letter requesting that the Governor assign new sources of State fund in this year’s budget, while a number of Senators, including Sen. Martin Golden (R-Bay Ridge) have made similar appeals.

A recent poll by NY1 revealed that nearly half of all New Yorkers are not aware that the State is responsible for the management and majority funding of the MTA. The organization anticipates that the video, like a public service announcement, will educate but also move viewers to hold the Governor accountable to follow through on his promise to invest in public transit.

Their call to action encourages transit riders to amplify their demands for improvements to the MTA by directing Tweets and posts at Governor Andrew Cuomo @NYGovCuomo, with the hashtag #CuomosMTA, and to sign their petition here.


See video at

Facebook post:



Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Taking Cue from Governor Cuomo, Riders Attempt to Buy MetroCards with an IOU, Testify Before MTA Board 

As Ridership Hits Record Highs, MTA Board Members Expect Project Delays Without A Fully-Funded, Approved MTA Capital Plan

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New York, NY – On Wednesday, March 23rd, Riders Alliance members attempted to purchase MetroCards with a giant IOU at the Bowling Green 4/5 station to call attention to Governor Cuomo’s failure to fund the MTA. Riders contend that Gov. Cuomo’s plan to fund the MTA’s 2015-2019 Capital Plan only after the agency has exhausted all other sources of funding amounts to an “IOU” after his promise to provide $8.3 billion in State funds. After ”failing” to buy from the kiosk, swipe through the turnstile, or purchase a MetroCard from an agent with their IOU, the riders testified before the MTA Board about the importance of a fully-funded Capital Plan.

Nine speakers from the Riders Alliance and Straphangers Campaign told of their personal experiences with delays, uncomfortable overcrowding, and long commutes on public transit—and linked those common rider woes to the Governor’s failure to fully fund and approve the MTA Capital Plan, which funds transit maintenance, improvements, and expansion. Riders’ testimonials called out the Governor for making promises to riders to pay for the MTA on some undefined, later date—while riders, of course, cannot write IOUs for public transit.

According to Politico New York, the Capital Plan was a key topic of discussion at today’s MTA Board Meeting, with Board member Jeffrey Kay stating, “At some point, projects will not be going forward … I really do hope that Albany comes to terms, passes our Capital Program Review Board package that we sent up.” Ultimately, MTA Chairman and CEO Tom Prendergast acknowledged that the agency only has funds through June 30 of this year, at which point it will “run out of money.”

Masha Burina, Organizer at the Riders Alliance, said, “As our lawmakers in Albany close in on the final days of negotiations on the New York State budget, the Governor has a choice to make: either he can be a leader of his word who invests real dollars in our public transit system, or he can choose to rely on rhetoric without offering meaningful change.”

Samuel Santaella, St. Albans, Queens, Member of Riders Alliance, said, “Every day, I take my little sister to and from school by taking two buses and one train: the Q83, the J train, and the Q55. On a good day, it takes my sister and me 1 ½ hours to get her to school. She risks missing some of her school day because of delays that can happen on any one of the three legs of the trip.  The truth is that none of these problems can be addressed without a fully funded Capital Plan. In the same way that my family has to pay up front for our costs, Governor Cuomo should not give us an IOU – a promise to pay, at some unknown point in the future. We need to see real investments in public transit in this year’s budget.”

Macartney Morris, Astoria, Queens, Member of Riders Alliance, said, “Riders are squeezed onto platforms that are too small, placing our bodies at risk for injury or even death. The system is literally falling apart and people are going to get hurt unless we take action. The first step is a fully funded MTA Capital Plan. Join me in loudly demanding that all parties in Albany fund the Capital Plan right now. Not next year, not two years from now, not whenever the account reaches zero. But right now. In this budget.”

The Issues

The 2015-2019 Capital Program is a $26.1 billion plan that pays for new subway cars, new buses, commuter rail cars, station upgrades, positive train control, and modern signals that allow for more trains to run. While ridership is at record levels, and crowding and delays have increased, work on projects from this capital plan is delayed due to the Governor’s failure to fully fund and approve the Capital Plan.

Funding: Governor Cuomo promised $8.3 billion in State funds to “modernize and fundamentally transform the MTA” and instead allocated $0 in this year’s proposed executive budget. Governor Cuomo puts New Yorkers at risk by preferring that the MTA first max out other funding sources until they “have been exhausted.” Riders worry that this unsupported MTA debt will lead to additional fare hikes, more expensive tolls, and service reductions.

Parity: NYSDOT is expecting $3.6 billion in appropriations, including bank settlement funds designated for roads and bridges. In addition to the Thruway Stabilization Fund to subsidize tolls, there is a total of $4.3 billion for roads and bridges. Meanwhile, thanks to the Governor’s failure to fund the MTA’s Capital Plan, subways, buses, LIRR, and Metro-North have no new funds.

See testimonies from the MTA Board meeting at


March 21, 2016

Contrary to “Parity” Claims, Analysis Reveals that MTA Receives Far Less Support Than Roads and Bridges in Governor Cuomo’s Proposed Budget

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Riders Alliance Review of State Budget Shows MTA Receiving Billions of Dollars Less Than NYSDOT

New York, NY—In a rebuttal to the conventional wisdom that New York’s roads and bridges are shortchanged at the expense of MTA capital funding, the Riders Alliance released a budget analysis today that shows the MTA is set to receive billions of dollars less in State support than DOT over the course of their respective five-year capital programs…and $0 appropriated in this year’s budget, compared to more than $3 billion this year for roads and bridges.

The analysis compared funding sources for the MTA’s 2015-2019 capital program with expected funding sources for the five-year plan for the NY State Department of Transportation.  The analysis also compared direct appropriations for each program this year in the Governor’s proposed FY2017 state budget.

This review found that:


• The State has pledged $8.3 billion in support to the MTA’s five-year capital program.  In contrast, the State has pledged $11.9 billion in support to DOT’s five-year plan and an additional $2 billion to the Thruway.

• The State contribution makes up 31% of the MTA’s five-year capital program.  In contrast, the State contribution makes up 59% of DOT’s five-year plan.

• Local residents and transit riders are contributing more than $11 billion to the MTA’s plan, in the form of:

o $2.5 billion New York City contribution

o $5.89 billion in MTA bonds backed by fares and tolls

o $1.85 billion in pay-as-you-go capital from MTA coffers

o $1.16 billion in MTA real estate sales and other MTA sources

• In contrast, municipalities and road users are not making a direct contribution to the NYSDOT five-year plan.


• Governor Cuomo’s proposed FY2017 budget contains no new appropriation for the MTA.  Instead it reiterates a promise that the State will contribute an additional $7.3 billion but does not give a timetable and does not include any language actually appropriating the funds.

• In contrast, the budget proposes to allocate real cash to NYSDOT: $3.6 billion in appropriations this year, including $200 million in bank settlement funds.

• The Governor’s budget proposes an additional $700 million to subsidize thruway tolls with a Thruway Stabilization Fund, bringing the total roads and bridges capital proposal to $4.3 billion.  There is no comparable fund to keep fares affordable for subway, bus and commuter rail riders.

John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance, said, “The conventional wisdom says that the MTA is getting more state money than roads and bridges, but a basic review of the budget shows that the opposite is true.  Governor Cuomo is proposing to put real cash into highways and roads and bridges, but the MTA is just getting an IOU and a promise to revisit the issue sometime down the line.  Public transit is literally bursting at the seams, and delays are skyrocketing, but Governor Cuomo is still playing games instead of actually putting in the money that would address the problem.”


For discussion of State commitment to MTA and DOT over five years, please see the State Assembly Ways and Means Committee summary of Governor Cuomo’s proposed executive budget, beginning on page 81:

See reference of Governor Cuomo’s five-year MTA plan in his announcement from January:

See MTA capital plan funding sources here on page 40:

To see State contribution of $3.6 billion to DOT capital in FY17, see page 454 of the Governor’s proposed capital spending plan at (and add $200 million in bank settlement funds from the Special Infrastructure Account (Dedicated Infrastructure Investment Fund), found on page 664 of the same document.

To see additional proposed State contribution of $700 million to the Thruway Stabilization Fund, see page 664 of the same document.

And to see reiterated the State’s commitment of $0 to MTA capital in 2017, see page 338 of the document.

Additional documentation of the Governor’s proposal to postpone MTA capital funding until a non-specific future date is on marked pages 5-6 (or PDF pages 8-9) in his Transportation, Economic Development and Environmental Conservation (TED) budget bill as well:


March 8, 2016

Riders Alliance Statement on Governor Cuomo’s Announcement of New Buses for New York City

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John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance, said:

“Governor Cuomo is the best governor we’ve ever had for making transit-related announcements, but then the money isn’t there to make these ideas a reality for riders. If Governor Cuomo is serious about modernizing the MTA, he’ll put his money where his mouth is in the state budget.”


In July, October and again in January, Governor Cuomo promised $7.3 billion in additional funding toward the MTA’s five-year capital rebuilding plan, which pays for new subway cars, new buses, commuter rail trains, station upgrades and modern signals that can allow more trains to run, which would help alleviate crowding. Then in his proposed budget, the governor allocated $0 in new funds toward fulfilling that promise.

Members of the Riders Alliance traveled to Albany yesterday to demand that Governor Cuomo keep his promise and fund the MTA capital program, beginning in this year’s budget. The state budget is due to be finalized by March 31.


February 12, 2016

Photo: Cardboard Cutout Cuomo Apologizes to Subway Riders for Disastrous Morning Commute

Signal and switch problems strand riders on 2, 5, A, D, N, and R  trains—but Governor Cuomo put $0 for signals and other MTA capital in his 2016-17 budget

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New York – Real Governor Cuomo is nowhere to be found, but Cardboard Cutout Cuomo expressed profound apologies to subway riders this morning (see attached photo) for causing delays on the 2, 5, A, D, N and R trains due to malfunctioning switches and signals—both things that would be fixed in the next MTA capital program, which Governor Cuomo has zeroed out in his 2016-17 proposed budget.

This morning’s delays come on the heels of extensive delays on the J and M trains on Wednesday, also due to outdated and malfunctioning equipment.  See details of this morning’s delays below and details of the J and M delays at

After Governor Cuomo promised $7.3 billion from the State to fund the MTA’s five-year capital plan, which pays for new signals and switches and subway cars and other equipment and construction, his 2016-17 budget includes $0 in new funding toward that goal.  Instead, the budget has a non-binding reiteration of his 2015 promise to fund the program, at a non-specific date in the future.

Clarence Eckerson, a member of the Riders Alliance, said,  “My brother told me his commute from Bay Ridge to Canal Street today took two hours door-to-door.  When I heard that I couldn’t believe it. When will the Governor realize our system needs to be funded? Broken signals and switches and delays are a natural consequence of failing to invest in public transit. We get mad at the MTA but we should focus our anger on the elected officials who are failing to fund public transit.”

Angry subway riders are signing a petition at calling on Governor Cuomo to reverse his position and fund the MTA capital plan in his budget.



Delays  Posted: 02/12/2016 10:02AM

Due to switch problems at President St,  and  trains are running with delays in both directions.

Allow additional travel time.


Delays  Posted: 02/12/2016 10:02AM

Due to signal problems at 125 St, northbound  and  trains are running with delays.

Allow additional travel time.

Delays  Posted: 02/12/2016 10:02AM

Due to signal problems at Rector St, northbound  and  trains are running with delays.

Allow additional travel time.


Service Change  Posted: 02/12/2016 10:53AM

Due to a train with mechanical problems at Broad Channel, the following service changes are in effect:


There is no train service between Broad Channel and Far Rockaway-Mott Av in both directions.

There is no Rockaway train service between Broad Channel and Rockaway Park-Beach 116 St in both directions.

As alternate customers are advised to use the Q21 or Q53 bus service making nearby station stops.

Allow additional travel time.


February 3, 2016

 “Cardboard Cuomo” Begins “Apology Tour” at Grand Central to Say: “I’m Sorry I’m Not Funding the MTA”

Governor Cuomo’s Cardboard Double Apologizes to Rush Hour Riders at Grand Central for Failing to Fund MTA Capital Plan

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New York
 – Today the Riders Alliance launched their “Cardboard Cutout Cuomo Apology Tour” at Grand Central Terminal to highlight the Governor’s failure to fund the MTA 2015-2019 Capital Program in his Executive Budget. “Cardboard Cuomo” heard riders’ complaints about subway and bus service and “apologized” for his inaction on the MTA Capital Plan.

After reaching an agreement with Mayor de Blasio that included $7.3 billion in additional State funding for the MTA Capital Plan, Governor Cuomo’s 2016-17 budget proposal contains no new money for the program—even after the governor gave a major speech to announce plans to “modernize and fundamentally transform the MTA” with billions of dollars of investment. Rather than providing any of the $7.3 billion in state funding the Governor promised toward the capital program, the Governor’s Executive Budget instead includes a non-binding reiteration of his 2015 promise to fund the program.

“Governor Cuomo made promises to riders, but in his budget, he doesn’t keep them,” said Masha Burina, an organizer with the Riders Alliance. “Riders on our subways, buses, and commuter rail need Gov. Cuomo to keep his promises—and that means putting real money into his budget instead of writing the MTA an IOU.”

If funding fails to materialize, it could lead to a radical halt to MTA plans to upgrade subway and bus equipment in the coming years, or to unsupported MTA borrowing that would result in fare hikes and service reductions for riders.

“I ride the train every day from Astoria to Manhattan, and the overcrowding and delays are getting worse and worse,” said Lauren Houston, an Astoria resident and Riders Alliance member. “When Governor Cuomo announced he would fund the MTA Capital Plan, I thought we’d actually see relief. Putting zero dollars in his budget for the capital plan isn’t relief. It’s a bait-and-switch.”

Governor Cuomo doubled down on his 2015 promise to fund the MTA with an ambitious speech at the New York Transit Museum on January 8th. There, he laid out a vision that would “bring the MTA into the 21st century” by funding new subway cars, new buses with wi-fi, and new signal systems that would allow more trains to run. All these items are in the MTA capital program, which has yet to be approved in Albany. Governor Cuomo’s speech is on his web site:

The reality is that Governor Cuomo’s budget, released on January 13th, allocates $0 in new funds toward the $7.3 billion remaining in the State’s commitment (last year the State provided $1 billion toward the capital plan). The budget also lays out no specific timetable for allocating those funds.  Instead, it has non-binding language claiming that the State will allocate its share of the funds “after MTA capital resources planned for the capital program, not including additional city and state funds, have been exhausted.”  That includes money that the MTA plans to borrow—meaning that MTA riders and toll payers will be on the hook for paying their share before the State ever plans to start paying for what it promised.

To view video of today’s “Apology Tour” by Streetfilms, visit:


January 26, 2016



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New York, NY – Big dreams may turn into a big reality in New York State with a series of newly proposed infrastructure projects designed to grow our 21stcentury economy.  Those projects include a fully funded MTA capital program, a new third track on the Long Island Rail Road, a new Penn Station to meet 21st century demand, state-of-the-art LaGuardia and Kennedy Airports and funding for the initial elements of Phase II of Second Avenue Subway, among many others.  Governor Cuomo showcased just how critical our transportation and infrastructure network is to a region experiencing a tourism and population boom with no end in sight.

The Empire State Transportation Alliance (ESTA), a coalition of organizations prioritizing additional resources for New York State transportation, commends the Governor for making the MTA and other transportation infrastructure a State priority.  However, the Governor’s Executive Budget left out critical details of how to pay for the MTA Capital Program, leaving only a promise.  ESTA and its partners appreciate the promise, but the best way forward is a much more clearly defined strategy to meet all of our capital needs in the next five years and to get some of these innovative projects off the ground as soon as possible.

“Our region’s success in the coming years will depend on having a modern transit network, so it is vital that we identify how the MTA’s capital program will be funded,” said Tom Wright, President, Regional Plan Association. “Otherwise, we risk not being able to carry out essential repairs and upgrades that already have been postponed for far too long.”

“The Governor announced an ambitious slate of projects to improve mass transit in the New York City region–but when the time came to fund that work, he zeroed out the state’s contribution to the MTA’s capital plan in his Executive Budget,” said John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance. “The capital plan is already a year late, and now it’s far more than a dollar short. If the Governor is serious about making our subways, buses and commuter rail work, he should start contributing the state’s promised $7.3 billion this year.”

Richard T. Anderson, President, New York Building Congress, said, “The Building Congress applauds the bold public works agenda outlined by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.  To ensure this vision becomes reality, concrete action from the Governor and the Legislature must be taken.  First and foremost, this means identifying and committing dedicated funding so that these projects essential to New York’s continued economic strength can move forward.”

“In the first few weeks of 2016 alone, we have seen just how vulnerable our subways and regional rails are,” said Denise Richardson, Executive Director of the General Contractors Association of NY.  “I’ve already lost count on the number of times service has been disrupted due to ‘signal problems.’  The GCA can’t stress enough how critical it is to both build and maintain a state of good repair.  Funding of the MTA Capital Program is essential to that effort and must go hand in hand with the exciting infrastructure expansion projects the Governor has laid out for our region.”

“The Governor’s ambition is admirable, but his Executive Budget defers the question of how to pay for maintaining and enhancing the region’s mass transportation system,” said Carol Kellermann, President of the Citizens Budget Commission. “Additional steps—identifying funding sources, whether from taxes on the region’s residents and businesses, fares from MTA riders, or fees and tolls from motor vehicle users—must be taken so the MTA can advance its capital program.”

“If we want to meet our ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals, we need each of these capital projects to come to fruition. Increased reliability and capacity for the MTA’s trains, buses and commuter rails means more people on transit. It also frees our roads and highways from heavy congestion as well as the harmful emissions and pollution that come with it,” said Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “The vision Governor Cuomo has laid out is the right one but now we must figure out how we’re going to pay for it. The state must find reliable long-term revenue sources for transit and make sure dedicated transit funds are not diverted to the general fund.”

“A fully funded MTA capital program should not be heavily reliant on debt, but instead reliant on direct yearly city, state and federal contributions and dedicated, sustainable and protected revenue resources. To achieve a stable and reliable MTA system, we expect the funding of the 2015-2019 program to follow that formula. The funding formula proposed by the Governor does not achieve that goal,” says Veronica Vanterpool executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

“A jump start on reviving the transportation infrastructure that once made New York the Empire State? Or a poorly-funded political gesture by Governor Andrew Cuomo?” said Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, a transit riders group. “Like many New Yorkers, the Straphangers Campaign worries that the Governor is not providing enough dollars for ambitious plans to really make a difference in the lives of millions of subway, buses and commuter rail riders.


January 26, 2016

Transit Advocates Warn: Riders Would Be Shortchanged by Governor’s Failure to Fund MTA Capital Plan

Despite Major Speech on Forthcoming Transit Improvements, Gov. Cuomo’s Budget Does Not Have Promised Funds

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New York – Leading public transit advocates including the Riders Alliance, Straphangers Campaign, and Tri-State Transportation Campaign gathered Tuesday morning to alert nine million daily MTA riders that Governor Cuomo’s 2016-17 budget proposal contains no new money for the MTA capital program, even after the governor personally visited the Transit Museum earlier in the month to announce plans to “modernize and fundamentally transform the MTA” with billions of dollars of investment.

The advocates sounded the alarm that Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal fails to fill any of the remaining $10 billion gap in the MTA’s five-year capital program. Instead of providing any of the $7.3 billion in state funding the Governor promised toward the capital program, the Governor’s budget offers only a non-binding reiteration of his 2015 promise to fund the program.  Mayor de Blasio, who committed $2.5 billion in MTA funding, to be provided when the State makes its contribution, also does not include any of that new funding in his 2016-17 budget proposal.  If funding fails to materialize, it could lead to a radical halt to MTA plans to upgrade subway and bus equipment in the coming years, or to unsupported MTA borrowing that would result in fare hikes and service reductions for riders.

THE PROMISE: On January 8th, Governor Cuomo visited the New York Transit Museum to outline a plan that would “bring the MTA into the 21st century” by paying for new subway cars with USB chargers, new buses with wi-fi, and new signal systems that would allow more trains to run.  All these items are in the MTA capital program, which has yet to be approved in Albany.  He reiterated the State’s commitment of $7.3 billion for the MTA capital program in addition to the $1 billion in last year’s budget.  Governor Cuomo’s promise is on his web site:

THE ACTUAL BUDGET: In the actual budget Governor Cuomo released on January 13th, he proposes to allocate $0 in new funds toward the $7.3 billion remaining in the State’s commitment.  The budget also lays out no specific timetable for allocating those funds.  Instead, it has non-binding language claiming that the State will allocate its share of the funds “after MTA capital resources planned for the capital program, not including additional city and state funds, have been exhausted.”  That includes money that the MTA plans to borrow—meaning that MTA riders and toll payers will be on the hook for paying their share before the State ever plans to start paying for what it promised.

See the Governor’s proposal to postpone MTA capital funding until a non-specific future date on marked pages 5-6 (or PDF pages 8-9) in his budget bill here:

John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance, said, “Governor Cuomo promised the world to transit riders, but all he is delivering is another IOU.  After all these promises, transit riders assumed there would be cash in the budget, but it turns out it’s just another promise.  The emperor has no clothes, or more accurately, he promises he will have clothes in a few years, but he won’t say exactly when.  If Governor Cuomo is serious about investing in public transit, he needs to provide funding this year instead of just another promise that it may happen in the future.”

“Delays already plague the bus, subway and rail systems. Delayed investment into the MTA 2015-2019 capital program signals an alarm that funding is far from secure for the nation’s most heavily used transit network. The 2016-17 state budget must include actual dollars, not a promise of future funding, to help the MTA expediently deliver the projects in the plan,” said Veronica Vanterpool, executive director, Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

Gene Russianoff of the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign said: “Downstate transit systems are in desperate need of repair. But Governor Cuomo has cynically chosen to respond with a plan that’s opaque, unclear, and a text book exercise in one level of government trying to offload its responsibilities on another. Instead of a serious response to a critical challenge, the Governor’s proposal feels like a business plan for one of Donald Trump’s failing casinos. But with the stakes much, much higher.”

“Transit riders suffering through long, difficult, and unreliable trips desperately need relief and the transit network requires investment to preserve and expand service. The ask is simple: “Show us the money!” The riding public deserves a transparent, clearly delineated, and progressive plan for funding the MTA capital program and that has not yet been made available.  The Governor and Mayor have verbally made significant commitments to funding transit – and it makes sense that they, just like riders, pay as they go – with allocated funds in the annual budget, said Elena Conte, Director of Policy, Pratt Center for Community Development


Friday January 8, 2016

As Governor Announces Improvement Plans for Subways and Buses, Riders Demand Rapid Approval of MTA Capital Plan—and Money to Pay For It All

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This morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo and MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast outlined capital investment plans to revitalize mass transit in New York, including new buses and subway cars, wi-fi and cellular service in all stations systemwide, and other improvements to reliability and accessibility. Many of these initiatives are included in the MTA’s 2015-2019 Capital Program, which has yet to be approved more than a full year after the program was scheduled to begin. The public has yet to receive updates on the status of the capital program three months after Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio announced an agreement to fund most of the plan.

In response, John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance, said, “These are vital investments to modernize subways and buses and make the daily commute less awful for eight million New Yorkers. But in order to make them happen, Governor Cuomo has to approve the MTA capital program so the MTA can begin doing the work, and he has to identify how he plans to pay for it all. After a year of delay so far, riders need a real guarantee that the work will actually happen, and that it won’t be paid for with more MTA borrowing that can lead to fare hikes and service reductions.”


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Riders Applaud Mayor’s Office Prioritizing MTA Funding Gap, Call on Governor to Fix Millions of New Yorkers’ Commutes

This week, First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris sent a letter to MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast highlighting the importance of the MTA’s 2015-2019 Capital Plan and demonstrating the Administration’s commitment to considering funding options, including the Move NY Fair Plan.


At the same time, the Governor’s Division of Budget sent a letter to the MTA asking the agency to reduce its capital program budget, despite record ridership levels and ongoing delays and breakdowns throughout the system. Advocates released the following statement in response: 

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“With both ridership and delays on the rise, transit riders should be relieved to know that Mayor de Blasio’s administration is taking our subway woes seriously,” said Nick Sifuentes, Deputy Director of the Riders Alliance. “In particular, we’re glad the Administration is studying the Move NY Fair Plan, which would fund improvements to our subways, buses, roads and bridges without relying on punishing fare hikes.”

“As First Deputy Mayor Shorris points out, now it’s the Governor’s turn. The MTA, a state agency, is the Governor’s responsibility—a responsibility he’s shirked, to the detriment of millions of daily commuters. Riders are tired of waiting for delayed trains and buses, but they’re even more tired of waiting for the Governor to take the state of our subways and buses seriously.”

“Better transit should play a key role in achieving the mayor’s top priorities, including appealing neighborhoods with affordable housing,” said Gene Russianoff, Senior Attorney for the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign.


Monday, June 1, 2015

Angered by News Report, Transit Riders Renew Call for Gov. Cuomo and Legislature to Fund MTA Before End of Legislative Session

Riders Urge Legislators to Fill $14 Billion Gap in MTA’s Capital Plan, Warn That Failure Will Mean Worse Service and Higher Fares

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With less than three weeks left in this year’s legislative session, Governor Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers have yet to take action on the MTA’s 2015-2019 Capital Program. Their inaction comes as riders face increasing service delays and breakdowns, as well as higher fares. On Monday, June 1st, the Daily News reported that Albany insiders say the session will likely end with no action on funding the MTA capital plan. In response, members of the Riders Alliance issued the following statement:

“With subway ridership hitting record highs, now is the time for Governor Cuomo to confront the MTA’s funding needs head-on, rather than kick the can further down the road,” said John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance. “Almost nine million New Yorkers take public transit every day—but Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers are functionally saying, we don’t care enough about these people to keep the system running.  If our elected officials don’t fund the MTA capital program, we won’t only lose big projects like new Metro-North stations in the Bronx and the next phase of the Second Avenue line; we’ll also end up with worse service and higher fares as the MTA tries to close its funding gap without any help from Albany.  If fares continue to rise and service continues to deteriorate, riders will have no one to blame but Governor Cuomo and members of the legislature.”

“My wages at City University haven’t gone up in 5 years—but my fares keep going up,” said Riders Alliance member Bob Nelson. “I’m disappointed and angry about the Governor’s total lack of interest in fighting for transit riders. If we don’t fund our transit system, we can’t maintain it, and if we don’t maintain it, nine million riders will find it much harder to live and work in New York City.”

“I live in Staten Island and often make the commute to Greenpoint, Brooklyn. That’s four hours out of my day I spend on public transit,” said Riders Alliance member Julie Krol. “By not making public transit a priority, Governor Cuomo is making a lot of people’s lives far more difficult. It’s unacceptable—and New Yorkers only have Governor Cuomo to blame.”


May 27, 2015

At “Subway Horror Stories” Book Tour in Albany, Riders Call on Governor, Legislators to Fix New York City’s Subways and Buses

Riders Hand Legislators Books Detailing Commuters’ Transit Woes, Ask Lawmakers to Fund MTA Capital Plan

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Albany, NY—On Wednesday, members of the Riders Alliance traveled to the state capital as part of their “Subway Horror Stories” book tour, distributing copies of their book and calling on the Governor and the state Legislature to fix New York City’s subways and buses by fully funding the MTA’s 2015-2019 Capital Program.

The Riders Alliance, New York’s grassroots organization of subway and bus riders, compiled firsthand stories of straphangers’ horrible commuting experiences into “Subway Horror Stories: Vol. 1.” Riders Alliance members delivered a copy of “Subway Horror Stories” to the Governor’s office and to members of the Legislature. As they met with legislators and their staff, they demanded that Governor Cuomo and members of the legislature take action to fill the MTA’s $14 billion capital budget gap before concluding the legislative session in June.

Last week, riders launched their book tour with a rally in front of Governor Cuomo’s office in midtown Manhattan, where they called on the Governor to fund the MTA in order to improve subway and bus service for over eight million New Yorkers who rely on subways and buses every day.

Riders noted that, as fares have continued to rise, delays are also up: the MTA’s data reveals that subway delays increased 46% from 2013 to 2014. “When we asked our elected officials to address our inadequate transit system, all we got was a fare hike. Maybe they’re not aware of just how bad it’s become,” said Thomasin Bentley, a Riders Alliance member from Brooklyn. “We’re here because our legislators need to understand just how crowded, miserable and stranded their constituents are every day. They need to work together to approve the MTA capital funding plan.”

“New Yorkers like me rely on the subway every single day. When the MTA doesn’t get the resources it desperately needs to maintain the system, we all suffer,” said Benjamin Lowe, a Riders Alliance member from Queens. “Trains and platforms are overcrowded, wait times are getting longer, and breakdowns are happening more and more often. Meanwhile, we’re starting to see fare increases every couple of years. New Yorkers are paying more and getting less from the subway. It’s not sustainable, and it’s not fair. Governor Cuomo and other lawmakers need to stop starving the subway system, and provide it the resources that a world-class transit system deserves.”

“Subway Horror Stories: Vol. 1” is available as a pdf here.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

At “Subway Horror Stories” Book Launch Outside Gov. Cuomo’s New York City Office, Riders Call on Gov. Cuomo to Fund Capital Plan

Riders Alliance Launches Book Tour in New York City and Albany to Demand Legislators Fund MTA 2015-2019 Capital Program

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New York, NY — At a book launch today in front of Governor Cuomo’s NYC office in Midtown, riders read nightmares from their commutes out of today’s newly released “Subway Horror Stories” book, a compilation of real-life tales from subway riders in New York City.

“Subway Horror Stories,” dedicated to Governor Cuomo, is a collection of tales from subway and bus riders who have experienced delays, hours spent underground, confusion due to lack of announcements, and other mishaps.

As part of their book tour, the Riders Alliance will travel to Albany to deliver copies to Governor Cuomo and each member of the state legislature, who must decide in June whether to fund the MTA’s proposed $32 billion five-year 2015-2019 Capital Program, which currently faces a $14 billion funding gap. If the Governor and Legislature fail to fund the MTA’s capital program, the MTA will likely be required to raise fares, eliminate future projects, or continue to let service decline.

Over 400 subway horror stories were collected by the Riders Alliance through March and April of this year due to an increase in complaints from Riders Alliance members about signal malfunctions, unexplained train delays and generally deteriorating service in recent weeks. These issues are largely attributable to an aging subway system that can only be repaired if lawmakers decide to fund the next capital program. Lawmakers must take up the question of capital funding in the coming months so the MTA can start work on its 2015-2019 capital plan.

At the event, riders read stories from the new book and expressed frustration with the state of the subway system. Brian Zumba, Riders Alliance member and college student from Corona, Queens, said, “My horror story is every day on the 7 train. I’m a Baruch College student who commutes from Corona Queens–one day on the morning of my midterm, the 7 train was 30 minutes late . . . which means that I was 30 minutes late to my exam! Our public transit system is failing us–and we need our representatives to take leadership!”

Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr., Riders Alliance member and J train rider, said, “One day I was running late to a doctor’s appointment–and to make it worse there were major unexpected delays on the 4 and 5 trains. I was stranded on a dangerously crowded platform, nobody told us why there were delays–and I completely missed my appointment! Unfortunately for New Yorkers this is all too common of a story!”

This month, the Riders Alliance and Straphangers Campaign sent a request to Governor Cuomo to join riders during the morning rush hour commute to see for himself the dire condition of the subways; at the same time, hundreds of riders signed the groups’ “#RideCuomoRide” petition asking him to join them on their morning commute.

While elected leaders delay a decision on the capital program, public transit ridership is hitting peaks not seen in generations, with 5.6 million New Yorkers taking the subway every weekday. At the same time, fares are increasing steadily; this year’s 4% increase will be followed by another 4% increase in 2017—and MTA officials have discussed a 15% increase in fares if the capital plan is not fully funded.

Riders sent a clear message to Governor Cuomo that they want to see the subways running properly. Bonnie Nelson, a Riders Alliance member who lives off of the F train at Bergen St. in Brooklyn, said, “New York City in the 70s and 80s was a city with a broken-down transit system. Failure to fund the MTA capital budget risks returning us to the scary old days of a city falling apart.  I lived through those times and I don’t want to go back.”

Riders can read their Subway Horror Stories by visiting


May 5, 2015

Transit and Civic Groups to City: “Give More to Fix City’s 110-Year-Old Subways”

As City Announces $125 Million in Funding, Groups Call on City to Help Fill $14 Billion MTA Capital Plan Shortfall

Points to IBO Finding: MTA Would Get $360 Million a Year If City Giving Had Kept Pace With Rate of Inflation

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New York, New York – One day after the de Blasio Administration announced that the City of New York’s proposed capital budget would include $125 million for the MTA’s 2015-2019 Capital Program, leading transportation and civic groups today called on the City of New York to increase the City’s contribution to the $32 billion, five-year capital fix-up program. That vital program provides funds for hundreds of new subway cars, buses, and commuter rail cars, modern signals and track and scores of station fix-ups.

Among the groups joining the call for greater City aid were: the New York Building Congress, CIVITAS, the General Contractors Association, the NYC Transit Riders Council, the Regional Plan Association, the Riders Alliance, the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, Transportation Alternatives, Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union, and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

“The City & State must invest more in its subways, a one trillion asset which keeps the city economy moving. For a relatively modest increase the mayor should be able to leverage such leadership to get similarly scaled increases from the MTA’s state and federal partners,” saidKevin Corbett, Co-Chair of The Empire State Transportation Alliance.

Before the city and state turn to the federal government for additional funding for the MTA, they should be making their own contributions to make certain that New Yorkers’ most critical transportation asset is not shortchanged by their own budget policies,” said DeniseRichardson, Executive Director of the General Contractors Association of New York.

The MTA’s has proposed a capital plan of $32 billion program for the five years running from 2015 to 2019.  Since 1982, the MTA has spent $75 billion to buy new subway cars and buses; fixed hundreds of stations; and replaced scores of miles of track and signals. MTA officials say funding for the five-year $32 billion program is currently $14 billion short.

The MTA says most of the funds for their capital plan would come from the federal government ($7 billion); be backed by riders ($4 billion in MTA) and generated by real-estate activities ($1.5 billion). But that leaves the city’s transit system with a funding gap of $14 billion that remains to be filled to meet all of the needs identified in the proposed MTA 2015-2019 Capital Program.

“A multibillion dollar shortfall would severely compromise the agency’s ability to bring the system to a state of good repair, address the backlog of assets past due for replacement, and grow to address the needs of its customers and the region,” said John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance.

“Fixing our transit system is critical to New York’s economic health and quality of life. The City should be doing better by the riding public,” said Emma Bologna, Executive Director of CIVITAS.

The widely-respected New York City Independent Budget Office conducted analysis of funding by the City of the MTA’s capital program over 30 years. The IBO found that if the City contribution had kept up with the rate of inflation, it “would have reached $363 million in 2014, and provide more than $1.8 billion for the proposed 2015-2019 capital plan.”

“The City is getting a deal reminiscent of the nickel fare, spending a miniscule amount to keep its most valuable asset in shape,” said Gene Russianoff, Senior Attorney for the Straphangers Campaign.  “All three levels of government—the City, the State and the federal government—should be doing more to keep city transit safe, decent and reliable for eight million daily riders.”

“I applaud Mayor de Blasio for recognizing the importance of a well-funded transit system to New York’s long-term economic and environmental sustainability,” said Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “But if the City wants to make real progress on its transportation wish lists in Washington and Albany, it needs to first lead by example and show that investing in the MTA Capital Plan is a top priority in its budget.”

“We appreciate City Hall’s proposal to increase its annual contribution to the MTA Capital Program by $25 million. But the city needs to do much more to close the estimated $14 billion gap in the plan,” said Bob Yaro, President Emeritus, RPA, and Co-Chair, ESTA. “The city has the most to gain from a fully functioning transit system. The vast majority of the MTA’s nearly nine million daily passengers live and/or work in the city, and if the system is allowed to deteriorate, it will have an inordinate impact on New York City’s residents and its economy.”

“A fully-funded MTA capital program is essential. The Building Congress has identified a number of new revenue sources that the City and State could leverage to close the MTA’s funding gap. The time for the City and the State to act on these, or other, ideas is now,” saidRichard T. Anderson, President, New York Building Congress.

“In OneNYC, Mayor de Blasio envisions a city that is not only sustainable but just; transit is the armature around which that city is built. If that’s the city we want, we and our Mayor and our City Council have to step up, and invest to strengthen and expand that system so it can connect all New Yorkers to opportunity,” said Joan Byron, Director of Policy at the Pratt Center for Community Development.

The MTA’s capital plan will likely be acted on by the State Legislature, Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio in the coming months.

To view the IBO’s analysis click here.


April 30, 2015

Fed Up With Poor Subway Service, Riders Launch “#RideCuomoRide,” Call for Governor to Take Subway During Rush Hour

As ridership stats hit record highs and MTA discusses 15% fare hike, riders ask Gov. Cuomo to experience how much service has deteriorated

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New York – Fed up with poor subway service and ever-increasing fares, subway riders called on Wednesday for Governor Cuomo to join them on the morning rush hour commute to see the dire state of the city’s public transit—and to ensure he agrees to fully fund the MTA’s five-year capital program.

The Riders Alliance and Straphangers Campaign sent the request to Governor Cuomo, asking him to join the morning commute with riders at his convenience. At the same time, riders signed the groups’ “#RideCuomoRide” petition,

“It defies comprehension that Governor Cuomo hasn’t taken up the issue of funding for our subways and buses,” said Nick Sifuentes, Deputy Director of the Riders Alliance. “The only reason we can think of is that he doesn’t have to deal with the dreadful rush hour commutes average New Yorkers face every day.”

According to a report by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, New Yorkers already have the longest commutes in the country, and recent MTA data shows that delays have increased from previous years.

With the legislative session in Albany more than half over, the Governor and Legislature have not revealed whether or how they plan to fill the $15 billion funding gap in the MTA’s five-year capital program, which pays for new subway cars, buses, commuter rail trains, modern signals, track, and upgrades like countdown clocks. It also supports expansions like the Second Avenue Subway into East Harlem and Metro-North into Penn Station, along with renewing six Metro North stations serving the Bronx.

While elected leaders delay a decision on the capital program, public transit ridership is hitting peaks not seen in generations, with 5.6 million New Yorkers taking the subway every weekday. At the same time, fares are increasing steadily; this year’s 4% increase will be followed by another 4% increase in 2017—and MTA officials this week floated the idea of a 15% increase in fares if the capital plan is not fully funded. That number is echoed by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office, which has reported that for every $1 billion that the MTA must borrow for its capital plan with no new revenue sources, the agency could be forced to raise fares an additional 1%. In that scenario, a monthly Metrocard could jump from the current $116.50 to almost $134—and each rider would pay more than $200 extra every year.

These fare increases disproportionately affect low-income New Yorkers, who can least afford hikes in their daily expenses and who have no other options besides public transportation. Those families are already feeling the squeeze: in a survey conducted by Lake Research for the Community Service Society, one out of three low-income New Yorkers reported that they are often unable to afford subway and bus fares. As fares continue to rise, that number will grow.

“New Yorkers are fed up with fare hikes, bad service, and overcrowded trains—we’ve been hearing from frustrated riders for months,” said Sifuentes. “It’s about time the Governor does too.”


Monday, April 20, 2015

MTA Ridership Statistics Highlight Need for Increased Service, Fully-Funded MTA Capital Program

As ridership hits historic highs, it’s time for Gov. Cuomo, Legislature to invest in increasing service by funding the MTA’s five-year capital plan

 On Monday, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) released data showing subway ridership reaching highs not seen since the 1940s. Meanwhile, the MTA’s $32 billion 2015-2019 Capital Program, which funds maintenance, service improvement and system expansion, faces a $15 billion shortfall. As the Legislature resumes session, Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature will decide whether to close that shortfall. The Riders Alliance issued the following response:

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“People are taking the subway at levels we haven’t seen for generations.  Our elected officials should be falling over each other to invest in better subway and bus service, to serve the eight million people who take the subway and bus every day.  Instead, there’s a debate about whether to invest even the basic funds required to prevent the subways from deteriorating further,” said John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance. “New Yorkers are voting with their Metrocards and relying on public transit more each year.  It’s time for Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers to listen to the crowd and increase transit funding to match riders’ needs.  If they don’t, riders are in for a future of more delays, dangerous crowding and higher fares.  With more people than ever relying on public transit, that shouldn’t be Governor Cuomo’s vision for public transit in New York.”


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Transit Riders Ask: Who’s Left Out of Governor Cuomo’s Budget? More Than 8 Million New York Commuters 

State Budget Fails to Address MTA Budget Gap as Ridership Hits Record Highs

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New York – The Riders Alliance, a grassroots organization of subway and bus riders, criticized Governor Cuomo and the state legislature today for passing a $142 billion budget that failed to make progress toward filling a $15 billion gap in the MTA’s capital program, which provides vital funding to maintain and improve New York City’s subways, buses and commuter rails.  The Riders Alliance renewed its call for Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers to step up and fund the MTA’s capital program before the end of the legislative session in June.

In a year plagued by fare hikes and declining quality of service, the state budget provides a mere $750 million in funding for the MTA capital program, as well as $250 million for a Metro-North expansion in the Bronx. Transit advocates pointed out that this year’s MTA funding fails to address the $15 billion funding gap in the MTA’s $32 billion, five-year Capital Program—the $750 million allocated was already expected as part of the funded portion, not new money to fill the gap. An analysis by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and New York Public Transit Association reveals that final budget also raided $20 million in operating funds that were supposed to be dedicated to public transportation. At the same time, despite broad support, Governor Cuomo and legislators rejected $100 million that had been proposed for faster bus service known as Bus Rapid Transit in the five boroughs.

Now, riders are urging Governor Cuomo and the state Legislature to prioritize fully funding the MTA’s Capital Program, which provides the MTA the funding it needs to adequately maintain and expand the region’s subways, buses, and commuter rail. If not filled, the shortfall will mean increased transit fares and further reductions in service.


John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance, said, “If we don’t fill the gap in the MTA’s capital program, we’re going to head back toward 1970s-style service.  Riders are already reporting more delays, more broken equipment, and more trains taken out of service.  And the official numbers back that up.  Governor Cuomo and the state legislature have to do this spring what they failed to this week: fund the MTA’s capital program.  Otherwise, we’re going to see more delays, deteriorating service and higher fares for the New Yorkers who can least afford them.”

The MTA’s figures show public transit ridership hitting new peaks: on average, more than 8,600,000 commuters ride the MTA’s subways, buses and commuter rail every weekday. At the same time, fares went up again this month, while subway delays have increased dramatically in the last year: in February, the MTA NYC Transit and Bus Committee Meeting Report from revealed that subway delays had increased 45.6 percent from 2013 to 2014.

“Our regional economy is the biggest in the US, and our subways, buses and commuter rail are the backbone of that economy. Instead of offering tax breaks for a few yacht-buyers, Governor Cuomo and the Legislature should fund the transit that eight million New Yorkers use every day,” said Jess Nizar, Senior Organizer for the Riders Alliance.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Transit Riders Warn of Even Bigger Fare Hikes Soon if Gov. Cuomo, Lawmakers Don’t Fund MTA Capital Program

 As fares rise, riders call on elected officials to invest in new cars, signals and track, as well as expansion plans for subway, buses & commuter rail

On Sunday, New York City subway and bus fares and tolls are set to increase, bringing the cost of a single-ride Metrocard from $2.50 to $2.75. At the same time, subway delays have increased dramatically: in February, the MTA NYC Transit and Bus Committee Meeting Report revealed that subway delays had increased 45.6 percent from 2013 to 2014. Public transit riders issued the following responses:

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“We’ve all seen too many fare hikes over the last several years, but if Governor Cuomo and the Legislature don’t fully fund the MTA Capital Program, there are larger fare hikes on the horizon. Right now, the MTA faces a $15 billion shortfall, and if we don’t fill it, we’ll see higher fares and worse service,” said Jess Nizar, Senior Organizer with the Riders Alliance. “That’s why we support the Move NY plan, which funds our public transit without increasing fares. Everything in New York is getting more expensive—but four fare hikes in six years is ridiculous. It’s time for Governor Cuomo and the Legislature to fund the MTA rather than making riders pay more and more for less and less.”

“In many ways NYC transit has improved during my 25 years here. But aging infrastructure, ever-increasing ridership and a chronically underfunded system are a toxic mix,” said David Estrada, a Riders Alliance member from Brooklyn. “I’m tired of the State budget tricks, petty politics, and lack of vision that leave our transit system constantly begging for scraps. I hold Governor Cuomo and our state legislators responsible.  I urge riders and local leaders to keep pressing for responsible, consistent, and sufficient transit funding. I’m about to become a new father. Will my child have a NYC transit system that works?”

“With the impending transit hikes, I’ll have to budget more money for transportation, which might take money away from other important expenses I have, like my phone bill, or medical bills,” said Riders Alliance member Emily December, a student at Queens College. “I’m afraid at this rate, I’ll go broke supporting a broken transit system.”

“I’m lucky as a city employee to enjoy transit benefits, which Riders Alliance has successfully worked to extend to all employees at companies with at least 20 full-time workers in New York City. I’m grateful that I can afford this latest fare hike, but I’m not happy that I will have to pay more for substandard service. New Yorkers deserve better! The governor and the state legislature must fully fund the MTA Capital Plan and show New Yorkers that they actually care about our transit service. Anything less will just come up short,” said Tolani Adeboye, a Riders Alliance member who commutes from Bed-Stuy to Manhattan regularly.

“Recently, I was very fortunate to land a full time job with transit benefits. However, I have several friends who are unemployed, under-employed, or self-employed, and the increase will have major consequences for them. I’m worried that additional fare increases are just around the corner and may force more friends and possibly even myself to move to more affordable parts of the country,” said Lauren Houston, a Riders Alliance member from Astoria, Queens.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

After Days of Delays, L Train Riders Call on Gov. Cuomo to Fix the Subways, Fund MTA’s Capital Program

Elected Officials Weigh In on L Train Service and MTA Funding

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New York, NY – Fed up with several days of subway failures, delayed commutes and dangerously crowded platforms on the L train, subway riders demanded Governor Cuomo and the state Legislature fix the subways by fully funding the MTA’s Capital Program, which provides the MTA the funding it needs to adequately maintain and expand the region’s subways, buses, and commuter rail.

“On Tuesday, I waited forever on the L train before we actually left,” said Riders Alliance member Alexis Saba, who commutes into Manhattan from Brooklyn. “When we finally left, the train crawled to Bedford, and were told that a rail was out and that Bedford was the last stop–and I couldn’t physically get out of the Bedford station due to the crowds!  After the bad service on the L train Monday, people were really angry on Tuesday.”

Subway delays have increased dramatically in the last year: in February, the MTA NYC Transit and Bus Committee Meeting Report revealed that subway delays had increased 45.6 percent from 2013 to 2014. At the same time, subway fares are set to rise again this weekend, to $2.75 per ride and $116.50 for a monthly pass, meaning riders are paying more than ever before for worse service.  On the L train specifically, Monday morning’s commute was interrupted for more than an hour because of a broken rail, and Tuesday’s for a rail condition.  New rails, signals and other subway equipment are funded through the MTA Capital Program.

Currently, the MTA’s $32 billion Capital Program faces a $15 billion shortfall, which if not filled will result in increased transit fares and further reductions in service—as well as more repair issues in the coming years. In response, L train riders vented their frustrations over subway delays, urging Gov. Cuomo and the legislature to make MTA capital funding a top priority to achieve in this legislative session. “We need Gov. Cuomo and the Legislature to step up,” said Riders Alliance member Shale Maulana, who was stuck on the L train this week. “Delays don’t just inconvenience riders—delays hurt the state’s economy when workers can’t get to work, impact education when students are late, and leave working families without other options stranded.”

Saba’s story is part of an effort by the Riders Alliance to collect “Subway Horror Stories,” which they plan to present to Gov. Cuomo and the Legislature. Visit the Riders Alliance website to share your own horror story or tweet to @RidersNY with the hashtags #SubwayStruggles #ThanksCuomo.

Elected officials whose constituents take the L train weighed in as well:

“I know the L Train horror stories all too well. Frustrated riders write or call my office frequently, some send photos of overcrowded platforms with lines running up the stairs and riders dangerously close to spilling over onto the tracks. The current budget proposal leaves the MTA unable to address these and many issues. The MTA capital plan is $15 billion in the red. This year’s proposed $1.6 billion capital allocation will have little effect and the Senate majority’s proposal to reduce it only makes matters worse. It’s irresponsible to ignore these shortfalls. For the daily commuters on the L, it’s inconceivable,” said New York State Senator Martin Malavé Dilan.

“New Yorkers can’t have the doors shut on them by a transit system that doesn’t receive the funding it needs,” said New York State Senator Daniel Squadron. “I pioneered the Full Line Review with the MTA to create real cost-effective service improvements, and it’s shown us that the MTA knows how to stretch its limited dollars. But we must keep working with Riders Alliance, and my colleagues in government, to make sure that we fully fund the MTA capital plan so that it has the funding it needs to stay on track.”

“Unfortunately the ‘L’ train stands for the ‘late train’.  It is time for us to receive the Capital funds that are necessary to improve the conditions for the people’s commute on the L train, so it can be transformed to the on time train,” said New York State Assemblymember Charles Barron.

“Mass transit is critical to our regional economy, and New York should devote adequate funding to our transportation system.  Our subway lines, like the L train that runs through the Assembly District I represent, transport millions of New Yorkers every day, and we need to be restoring and improving subways and bus networks, not forcing riders to pay ever higher fares for increasingly shoddy service,” said New York State Assemblymember Dick Gottfried.

“Every day the L train is used by tens of thousands of riders as the main mode transportation in and out of Williamsburg. People’s livelihoods are on the line, no pun intended. We need to ensure that this line and others around the city are functioning properly on a regular basis so people’s lives are not interrupted. I am wholeheartedly in support of a fully funded MTA capital program. Earlier this year I signed on to a letter asking Governor Cuomo to support the legislature’s request for a fully funded capital plan for the MTA. I will continue to stand with the Riders Alliance and my colleagues in advocating and negotiating a fully funded MTA capital plan,” said New York State Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol.

“More and more people are using the L train, and it seems like the service is just getting worse. The MTA’s Capital Plan is about $15 billion short of its current needs, and if we keep cutting corners on funding infrastructure maintenance, these problems are sure to continue,” said New York City Council Member Dan Garodnick.

“L train riders deserve nothing less than quality, reliable service. The poor service on the L train is just the latest example that the MTA’s Capital Program needs to be fully funded and I stand with riders in calling for this important funding,” said New York City Council Member Stephen Levin.


March 15, 2015

After Weeks of Bad Subway Service, Riders Alliance Announces Weeklong Drive to Collect “Subway Horror Stories” From Angry Riders 

Tales of Broken Trains, Signal Malfunctions and Long Delays Will be Compiled for Governor Cuomo and Lawmakers to Show Urgent Need for MTA Capital $$

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Brooklyn, NY—In a grassroots day of action today, the Riders Alliance announced a weeklong drive to collect riders’ “subway horror stories” of recent train delays, signal malfunctions, and other deteriorating service.   The stories will be compiled and presented to Governor Cuomo and members of the state legislature, who have to decide in the coming months whether to fund the MTA’s proposed $32 billion five-year capital program…or whether to let service continue to deteriorate for subway riders.

The Riders Alliance is collecting stories at Friday, March 20th.  Riders Alliance members also approached subway riders today in the Atlantic Avenue—Barclays Center station to ask them to share their experiences.  Stories contributed online and in person will be presented to Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers to underscore the urgency of funding the MTA’s capital program.

The move to collect riders’ “horror stories” is prompted by a sharp increase in complaints from Riders Alliance members about signal malfunctions, unexplained train delays and generally deteriorating service in recent weeks—largely attributable to an aging subway system that can only be repaired if lawmakers decide to fund the next capital program.  Lawmakers must take up the question of capital funding in the coming months so the MTA can start work on its 2015-2019 capital plan.

Bonnie Nelson, a Riders Alliance member who lives off of the F train at Bergen St. in Brooklyn, said, “I’ve been riding the subways regularly since 1968; this is beginning to feel like the bad times in the 70’s again! On my way home one day this week, there was no power at the World Trade Center so I had to change trains twice. When I finally got to my train there was barely enough room for me to squeeze on!”

David Estrada, a Riders Alliance member who lives off of the F and G trains at the 15th Street-Prospect Park stop, said, “’Signal problems,’ ‘power failure’ and ‘disabled train’ seem to be the themes of the winter. We need a well-funded capital plan that will provide the money for countdown clocks, service announcements and faster trains!”

Mazin Melegy, a Riders Alliance member who lives in Crown Heights, said, “The L train is a disaster. I had to wait for 35 minutes as I watched 6 packed cars pass before I was able to squeeze onto one. This is unacceptable. Our elected officials need to do something about this.”

John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance, said, “It’s easy to blame the MTA for all of these breakdowns and malfunctions, but the real culprits are Governor Cuomo and members of the state legislature, who have not stepped up to provide the funds that would fix and upgrade our subways.  If Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers don’t fund the next MTA capital program, riders are going to see a lot more of these signal malfunctions and train breakdowns in the future.  Our transit system is better in every way than it was in the 1980s, but if we don’t invest the funds to maintain it, we’ll see the bad old days come back.”


December 1, 2014

Transit Advocates Alert Riders: More Fare Hikes Could be Coming Soon

On Day of Fare Hike Hearing, Straphangers Campaign and Riders Alliance Highlight DiNapoli Report Showing That Unfunded MTA Capital Plan Could Lead to 15% Fare Increase

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NEW YORK, NY—On the day of the MTA’s first public hearing regarding proposed 2015 fare increases, the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign and the Riders Alliance warned riders that the looming gap in funding for the MTA five-year capital plan could lead to larger fare increases in coming years.  The transit advocates asked riders concerned about fare hikes to bring their demands to Governor Cuomo and members of the state legislature, who must settle on new revenue sources to support the capital plan in order to avert additional, larger-than-inflation fare hikes around the corner.

The rider advocates highlighted State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s October 2014 report showing that each $1 billion in unfunded MTA borrowing would require new revenue comparable to an additional 1% increase in subway, bus and commuter rail fares.  The current MTA five-year capital plan has a $15 billion hole in its funding plan.

“Borrowing means more fare hikes,” said Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, a transit riders group.”The MTA has issued $33 billion in bonds since 1982 and spends $2.5 billion a year just to service the debt.”

“This fare increase could be the tip of the iceberg if Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers don’t find new funds for the MTA’s infrastructure needs,” said John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance.  “Public transit is the backbone of the entire regional economy, and paying for it more and more with user fees is a regressive way to fund an essential public service.”


October 22, 2014

Statement from John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance, regarding record subway ridership numbers:

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“The record ridership is a clear indication that subway service has improved immeasurably since the bad old days, and that public transportation is more essential than ever to the success of the city.  More New Yorkers using transit means fewer cars, better air quality, and a growing local economy.

“With more New Yorkers using public transit, we need to guarantee that our system can continue to thrive with the city it serves.  These record numbers should be setting off alarm bells for our elected officials in Albany, who will need to find $15 billion in the next few months to fund the MTA’s basic infrastructure and construction needs.

“If we don’t continue to invest in our system and build for the future, these strong numbers could represent a peak instead of a trend.  It’s vital that our elected officials find the funding needed to support the entire $32 billion capital plan, which represents the least we can do to maintain our system so it can last for years into the future.”


March 29, 2014


Transportation Groups Warn That “Treating MTA Like a Piggy Bank” Will Put Pressure on Fares and Service

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Today, Albany failed millions of subway, bus and commuter rail riders.

Despite budget resolutions by both houses that removed Governor Cuomo’s ill-conceived raid on dedicated transit funds, the Assembly and Senate largely caved to the Governor’s wishes and failed to protect transit riders in the final agreement. The final budget bills, printed this morning, show the $40 million proposed raid had been reduced to $30 million—still a tremendous loss for the riding public.

The sacrifice of dedicated transit funds will mean less money available to provide subway, bus, Metro-North and Long Island Railroad service. Taking away transit funding at the state level has a direct impact on levels of service, which still have not been restored to 2010 levels, and on fares, which continue to rise every other year.

Sadly, our elected leaders have sent a clear message that the State can—and will—use the MTA as a piggy bank, siphoning dollars out of the pockets of transit riders.

In recent years, legislators have agreed to create new revenue streams with the promise that the money would flow to the transit system. Today, those promises were broken, undermining the future stability of the transit system.

We thank those legislators who were unwavering champions in this battle, including Assemblyman James Brennan, Senator Martin Golden, and the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus. We also appreciate the support of the dozens of legislators who put themselves on record opposing the raid.

In October, the MTA will present to the State Legislature a five-year, multi-billion capital program to continue the repair of our vital transportation system. Estimates of the gap in funds needed could be $15 billion or more. At the same time, the MTA will be preparing to hold hearings for its fifth fare hike in six years.

We hope Albany does much, much better for transit riders in the coming year than it did today.


March 24, 2014

Analysis: $40 Million That Gov. Cuomo Seeks from MTA Could Add Bus & Rail Service, Reduce Crowding and Waits, and Lessen Pressure on Fares

Governor and Legislature Wrangle Over Transit Funding; Issue to be Decided This Week, as State Budget Negotiations End

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NEW YORK, NY—The Riders Alliance and the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign released an analysis today detailing service improvements that could be made if the State Assembly and Senate are successful in blocking Governor Cuomo’s proposed $40 million raid on public transit funds in the State budget.

The organizations outlined an example of potential transit uses for $40 million, using the MTA’s own estimates for cost savings achieved during the massive 2010 service cuts.   They concluded that – if the Assembly and Senate restore the Governor’s proposed $40 million cut to a State account of dedicated transit funds – the MTA could make such improvements as:



  •   Restore mid-day, nighttime and weekend service that was reduced on the 1, 7, A, F, J, L and M lines in 2010, creating shorter waits for 300,000 riders every weekday and 285,000 riders every weekend ($3.1 million)

  •  Add 20% 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 ($3.4 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 hours routes in Staten Island ($3 million)


Commuter Rail

  •   Add 6 new LIRR rush hour trains every weekday ($2.2 million)

  •   Add 10 new off-peak weekday LIRR trains ($0.4 million)

  •   Add 10 new LIRR trains every weekend day ($0.3 million)

  •   Add cars to Metro-North trains to reduce crowding on the Harlem, Hudson and New Haven lines ($2.7 million)

  •    Add two daily Metro-North trains each to the Harlem, Hudson and New Haven lines ($1.9 million)



 The groups pointed out that the funds could instead be used to reduce MTA plans to increase the fare in 2015 and 2017.  They noted that the MTA had initially warned it would raise by 8.4%, twice the rate of inflation. In response to widespread criticism, the agency then said it would raise fares by 4% every two years, about half their initial rate. However, in recent weeks, the MTA has again warned that its financial problems may cause a higher fare increase.

The analysis used recent MTA budget documents, including cost savings descriptions for service reductions made in 2010, to estimate what could be achieved for one year of service with $40 million.  In this year’s budget, Governor Cuomo has proposed to raid $40 million from a pot of dedicated transit funds in order to pay debt service on bonds that the State had originally promised to support.  Both the Senate and the Assembly rejected the Governor’s proposed raid in their respective one-house budget resolutions.  The final budget is expected to be negotiated this week and is due by the end of March.


John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance, said, “This money could be used to relieve crowding on buses and trains and give many riders shorter commutes.  But many improvements will only be possible if the Assembly and Senate stand strong and reject the governor’s raid on dedicated transit funds.”

Gene Russianoff, Staff Attorney for the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, said, “$40 million could make a real difference in the commuting lives of hundreds of thousands of transit riders. They are hoping that Albany will come to their aid.”

State Senator Martin Golden
 said, “I sponsored the Transit Funding Lockbox Act in the State Senate so to stand up for all those who ride the buses and trains and have been asked to pay more for less service. This legislation will guarantee that funds dedicated to support the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s commuter system, will actually be spent for such purposes and not get lost on the account of other State expenses. It is vital that this year’s budget retains the $40 million for transportation purposes so to create greater financial integrity for the Metropolitan Transit Authority and end the days of simultaneous fare hikes and service reductions.”

State Senator Martin Malavé Dilan said, “New York’s infrastructure continues to reap what decades of dedicated fund raids have sowed. Almost every mile of road, track and bridge across the state shows the signs of this untenable practice, including New York City’s mass transit system. The subways and trains are overcrowded. Bus routes are few and far between due to budget cuts in recent years; and the core infrastructure is still reeling from the effects of Superstorm Sandy. A $40 million raid on dedicated transit funding will only exacerbate these issues and set a terrible precedent.”

State Senator Brad Hoylman said, “It’s short-sighted to divert dedicated MTA funding towards other purposes. This report shows how reinvesting in our transit infrastructure using this funding could increase service, reduce crowding and fare pressure, and overall improve the state of good repair for the system, which in the long run will save taxpayers money.”

State Senator Liz Krueger said, “In 12 years in Albany, I’ve found governors and legislative leaders are lightning-quick to claim our troubled capitol has turned over a new leaf, but glacially slow when it comes to ending the budgetary tricks, gimmicks, and bad habits that got us in trouble in the first place. Nowhere is this more evident than transit funding, which the governor has once again proposed to raid. Our mass transit system is the engine that drives the entire downstate economy, from Long Island to the city and the Hudson Valley — raiding this funding is self-destructive and nonsensical.”

State Senator Daniel Squadron said, “Our subway system moves millions of people every day — yet, as any rider can tell you, it is aging and needs help. We must maintain and improve service and do everything possible to prevent fare increases, and the best way to do that is to protect every dollar intended for transit. I’ll continue fighting to fully fund our transit system, and I look forward to working with my colleagues and transit advocates like the Riders Alliance.”

State Assemblyman Michael Benedetto said, “Myself and many of my Assembly colleagues believe that when the money is available it should be used to provide more services, or hold down the fare, not diverted for other purposes. We ask that the governor realize how important this is to our mass transit ridership.”

State Assemblyman David Buchwald said, “I am pleased that the Assembly budget proposal rejects the plan to divert $40 million in MTA operating funds to pay MTA debt service. During the past years, our riders have dealt with continual fare increases and slashed services. Taking away money that is meant to invest in our transportation system is not the right thing to do – the MTA riders deserve a commitment to improved services and a limit to fare increases.”

State Assembly Member Karim Camara said, “This report makes it crystal clear: $40 million can make a real difference in the commutes of New Yorkers. The B46 on Utica Avenue that runs through Crown Heights is the second busiest bus route in New York City. It’s about time the MTA started giving it the resources such a route warrants. A small percentage of that $40 million could go a long way in alleviating overcrowding and delays. New Yorkers and the MTA rank and file simply deserve better.”

State Assemblywoman Sandy Galef said, “I will continue to strongly oppose diverting dedicated funding for transit to other purposes. Now more than ever our rail systems need a committed source of funding to provide necessary rail safety improvements. Metro-North has experienced an unprecedented number of accidents in the past year, and every dollar allocated to their funding will help improve safety measures. This state money could be used for a Positive Safety Control system, which could prevent future accidents like the one last year which resulted in tragedy for my constituents.”

State Assembly Member Richard Gottfried said, “New York should be restoring service on the public transit system and keeping it affordable.  The transit system is key to creating the region’s wealth.  That wealth should support the transit system.  It’s wrong to use a financial shell game to take away transit funds to pay for tax cuts for wealthy interests.”

State Assembly Member Micah Kellner said, “New Yorkers can’t afford for the MTA to be condemned to a slow death by a thousand cuts. The Riders Alliance report vividly illustrates the critical services and infrastructure that will be short-changed if $40 million is cut from the MTA budget, and why we need to fight hard to preserve this vital transit funding.”

State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol said, “We must maintain full funding for our mass transit system because it is the key to the economic health and well being of our City.  I know that right now my neighborhood is booming, but if we don’t work to improve the mass transit that serves it, that economic prosperity will be in jeopardy.  It’s clear our system requires significant infrastructure repairs, improvements and expansion.  That comes from increased ridership, from everyday use and from the devastating storms we have experienced that caused massive damage and pointed out the system’s weaknesses.  We need to address these needs and move forward in our efforts to maintain a transit system that is up to the job of moving people around our City.”

State Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis said, “It is critical that the state budget provides adequate funds for transportation and does not redistribute transit dollars to pay for other initiatives. This unfortunately occurred in 2010 and, as a result, bus service was eliminated while fares and tolls increases. Much of the service cut at the time has since been restored but we’re still fighting to get Brooklyn’s B37 and Staten Island’s X18 restored. Losing an additional $40 million would make this even more difficult. The threat of having dedicated transit funds diverted is the reason why the state legislature has passed a lock box legislation. Unfortunately, it was twice vetoed by the Governor.”

State Assemblyman Walter Mosley said, “Our transit system is at the heart of what sustains our thriving economy and attracts people to the cultural and entertainment core. We must preserve the $40 million in transit funding, and in so doing work to restore previously cut transit services and dramatically improve conditions on Metro-North and LIRR train lines. We cannot afford to balance the MTA’s budget on the backs of hard working New Yorkers. I stand with my colleagues and a strong coalition of public transportation advocates to rally for these desperately needed funds.”

State Assemblyman Steve Otis said, “I am very pleased to have been part of the effort to restore this funding in the Assembly budget resolution and am hopeful that the funds will be included in the final budget. Mass transit needs additional funding to improve service reliability and safety.”

State Assemblyman Dan Quart said, “Protecting public transportation is always one of my highest priorities in Albany. This $40 million can make a real difference for straphangers and should only be used for mass transit.”

State Assemblyman Edward Ra said, “Mass transit is crucial to Long Island residents. We must do more, not less, to ensure less crowding and better access to mass transit. As we work to pass a budget this week, ensuring proper funding for public transportation is one of my top priorities.”

State Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal said, “Balancing the budget by raiding the MTA’s funds needlessly punishes the New Yorkers and commuters who will suffer the service cuts and fare hikes that follow. An affordable, effective transit network is the lifeblood of any major city, and the possibility of restoring more of the critical bus lines and other services cut in 2010 makes the pressing need for this funding even clearer. Continually using the MTA as the State’s piggybank jeopardizes the City’s goal of shifting people from cars to transit.”

State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic said, “This year’s state budget must ensure key services for working and middle class New Yorkers. At a time of increasing ridership and longer commute times, our riders need enhanced, quality service–especially in outer-borough communities. That is why we cannot afford to sweep out $40 million in dedicated funding for mass transit.”

State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas said, “In recent years, MTA riders have been faced with service cuts, fare increases, and increased crowding and delays– especially here in the growing community of western Queens. Given these continued problems, any funding dedicated to improving public transit must be used exclusively for that purpose, and not raided to the detriment of millions of commuters.”

State Assemblyman Matthew Titone said, “We need to be investing in our transportation systems, not depleting them. The Assembly budget plan rejects the executive proposal to divert $40 million in MTA operational funds to pay MTA debt service. This money was dedicated for mass transit needs and shouldn’t be used for anything else.”

State Assemblyman Weisenberg said, “I strongly support the Assembly’s budget resolution, which fully restores the Governor’s proposed cuts to the MTA.  The availability of mass transit is essential to the many commuters in my district who rely on the MTA to get to and from their jobs.  I will continue advocating for the full restoration of funding during budget negotiations,”

State Assembly Member David I. Weprin said, “The proposal to deprive the transit system of $40 million is a nonstarter.  Ridership of the New York City subways alone exceeds 5,000,000 people on the average weekday.  This budget raid would only necessitate further, more dramatic fare raises for all commuters and straphangers.  I absolutely believe that we in the State Assembly must negotiate to find funds through other channels.  The transit riding public should not be the government’s default cash-cow.”

William Henderson, Executive Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, said, “Almost four years after the MTA’s damaging cuts to bus, commuter rail, and subway service, riders are still impacted by these reductions.  The MTA has struggled to find resources to restore these cuts, but this analysis shows that protecting dedicated MTA funding can result in a major benefit to riders.”

Veronica Vanterpool, Executive Director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said, “Since 2008, we’ve been reeling from the impacts of service cuts and fare increases. It’s time to be thinking about how transit service can be expanded and the fare can be stabilized.  But, these are only pipe dreams if this diversion occurs.”

Eric Alexander, Director of Vision Long Island, said, “Keeping transit dollars directed towards providing LIRR train service and other support is precisely what the public expects.  In order to grow our economy and transit oriented development our NYS tax dollars need to support reliable, stable transit service.”


March 14, 2014

Transit Riders, Advocates Hail Senate and Assembly for Standing Up for Transit Funds

Consensus in Albany: Both Houses Reject Governor Cuomo’s Proposed $40 Million Raid from Transit in State Budget 

Money Could Be Used to Restore Service, Protect Riders From Excessive Fare Increases

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NEW YORK, NY—Transit riders and advocates praised the Senate and Assembly today for standing up for subway, bus and commuter rail riders in the state budget, after both houses of the legislature rejected Governor Cuomo’s proposed $40 million raid on transit funds in their respective one-house budget resolutions.

The consensus among the Senate and Assembly builds strong momentum for the push to reject the raid on the funds when the final state budget is negotiated.


John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance, said, “The Senate and Assembly have transit riders’ backs.  Our representatives are standing up for everyone who rides a bus, subway or commuter train in New York.  Now we need Senators and Assembly Members to carry this fight through to the end and make sure that transit funding is protected in the final state budget.”

Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, said, “Hooray!  The Assembly and Senate are standing up for millions of subway, bus and suburban riders. What we need is for the Governor to get on board with the riding public.”

Veronica Vanterpool, Executive Director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said, “Transit users, operators, and manufacturers are relying on our state legislators to protect dedicated transit funds, and we are glad they did.  By rejecting this $40M diversion in both the Senate and Assembly budget proposals, our elected officials are listening to those who depend on a strong transit system. It’s now time for Governor Cuomo to listen and drop this proposal for good.”

Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said, “We applaud state legislative leaders Skelos, Klein and Silver for saying no to Governor Cuomo’s proposed $40M sweep of dedicated transit funds.  Transit riders are counting on these leaders to stand firm in their negotiations with Governor Cuomo and to send a clear message that the MTA should not be used as an ATM to fill budgetary gaps.”

William Henderson, Executive Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, said, “We thank the Assembly and Senate for their clear statement that dedicated transit  funds should be used for their intended purpose and not to fill holes in the State’s general fund.  Rejecting these proposed diversions is an important step in stabilizing transit funding and protecting bus, subway, and commuter rail riders. We urge our legislative leaders to keep fighting for riders as a final spending plan is negotiated.”

John Lyons, State Chair of the Amalgamated Transit Union, said, “I’m grateful that the Senate and Assembly saw the light and realized that taking these funds is not in the interest of public transit.  Now let’s make sure that they follow through as the budget is finalized.”

Alejandro Gaviria, a 7 train rider who is a member of the Riders Alliance from Jackson Heights, said, “I’m glad the Assembly and Senate took this important first step to support transit riders. But the Governor needs to stand with us too. If his proposed budget is passed, we are the ones that will have to pay the cost. As a worker, I can’t pay for another fare hike, and my job won’t wait for bad public transportation.”


In his proposed 2014-15 budget, Governor Cuomo requested to remove $40 million from a fund that is supposed to be dedicated to mass transit, and to move it to the General Debt Service Fund.  Governor Cuomo proposed to use the funds to pay debt service on the MTA’s Service Contract Bonds—bonds the State had committed to pay for, not the MTA, for the express purpose of alleviating the MTA’s debt burden and the negative impacts it has on service and on riders.  Both the Senate and Assembly have now opposed this raid in their respective one-house budget resolutions.

In addition to stealing $40 million from dedicated transit funds this year, Governor Cuomo’s budget proposed to take an additional $20 million every year for years into the future.  Advocates pointed out that the Governor’s proposal would cumulatively steal nearly $350 million from the cash-strapped transit agency.  State Comptroller DiNapoli, in his analysis of the Governor’s proposed 2014-15 budget, pointed out that these are “resources that could have otherwise gone to the MTA.”

Meanwhile, the cash-strapped MTA has still not restored the level of service riders had before bus routes and subway lines were eliminated in 2010 cost-saving measures, and the Authority has predicted that there will be additional fare hikes in 2015 and 2017.


March 2, 2014

NYS Legislators, Subway and Bus Riders Rally to Stop Gov. Cuomo’s $40 Million Raid of Transit Funds

If Governor Cuomo’s Plan Succeeds, Subway and Bus Riders Could See Additional Fare Hikes and Service Cuts

Dozens of Elected Officials Go on Record Opposing the Raid

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NEW YORK, NY—State legislators, transit advocates and subway and bus riders rallied today to oppose Governor Cuomo’s proposed raid of $40 million from dedicated transit funds in the state budget—funds that could otherwise go to restore transit service or reduce the proposed 2015 and 2017 fare hikes.  The advocates released a letter from more than 30 members of the State Assembly, led by Assembly Member Jim Brennan, opposing the Governor’s proposed raid and pushing for the funds be restored to the transit budget.

In his proposed 2014-15 budget, Governor Cuomo requests to remove $40 million from a fund that is supposed to be dedicated to mass transit, and to move it to the General Debt Service Fund.  Governor Cuomo proposes to use the funds to pay debt service on the MTA’s Service Contract Bonds—bonds the State had committed to pay for, not the MTA, for the express purpose of alleviating the MTA’s debt burden and the negative impacts it has on service and on riders.

In addition to stealing $40 million from dedicated transit funds this year, Governor Cuomo’s budget proposes to take an additional $20 million every year for years into the future.  Advocates pointed out that the Governor’s proposal would cumulatively steal nearly $350 million from the cash-strapped transit agency.  State Comptroller DiNapoli, in his analysis of the Governor’s proposed 2014-15 budget, pointed out that these are “resources that could have otherwise gone to the MTA.”

Meanwhile, the cash-strapped MTA has still not restored the level of service riders had before bus routes and subway lines were eliminated in 2010 cost-saving measures, and the Authority has predicted that there will be additional fare hikes in 2015 and 2017.


State Assembly Member Jim Brennan said, “The Executive budget’s current recommendation to sweep $40 million in dedicated tax revenue to pay for a portion of debt service associated with previously issued-MTA bonds is troublesome.  New York is not facing a financial crisis now and dedicated taxes should fulfill their intended purposes, in this case supporting mass transit.”

State Senator Martin Golden said, “I join with my colleagues and with the Riders Alliance in calling for an end to transit fund raiding. As a sponsor of the Lock Box Bill which would have prevented raids like this from happening, I know how important it is to ensure that funds that are dedicated for transit operations remain. It’s just simply wrong.”

State Senator Martin Malavé Dilan
said,After years of belt-tightening, New York has weathered the worst of a fiscal crisis that drew cuts to transit services year in and year out for nearly a decade. For years we’ve debated what, where and how much in cuts needed to be made; and all the while the demand grew and grew. As a result, that demand has surpassed the city’s transit infrastructure and investment in it. The time has come to look at where we can reinvest in transit, and we can start by not cutting $40 million from operating assistance.”

State Senator Daniel Squadron said, “We’ve seen time and again that the best way to keep transit fares down and service quality up is dedicated funding. That’s why we need to protect every dollar that is meant for transit — and keep finding new ones. I look forward to continuing to work with Riders Alliance, transit advocates and my colleagues in government to protect these dollars and work to ensure that the system has the funding it needs.”

State Assembly Member Karim Camara said, “I think everybody should consider how $40 million could be used to help riders in New York City. In Central Brooklyn, certainly some of this money could be used to alleviate overcrowding and delays on Utica Avenue, which is served by the B46, the second busiest bus line in New York City.  At the very least, this money could be used to help stop anticipated fare hikes next year. We owe it to riders and MTA rank and file workers to do everything we can to improve service while keeping fares in place.”

State Assembly Member Michael DenDekker said, “I’ve asked the Governor not to sweep the $40 million in excess transit funds and instead direct the MTA to make full restoration of bus services that were previously cut. In a city as dependent on public transportation as New York, it is crucial that we provide residents with a full range of transit options.”

State Assembly Member Richard Gottfried said, “The moral assignment of the MTA, and all of us in state and local government, is to maintain and expand that system, not dismantle it, and to keep it affordable. This region has enormous wealth, and much of that wealth is a direct result of how the transit system makes the region work.  It is sound public policy, and certainly fair, that the region’s wealth should support the region’s transit system.”

State Assembly Member Joseph R. Lentol said,My district is serviced by only two subway lines, the G and L train – one of which is considered the ugly stepchild of the MTA. The G train has undergone service cuts in the past and although some increases in service are coming this year, they simply are not enough. We need to be increasing funding for our transit system to not only increase service, but to also maintain the current fares. Customers should not have to be worried about regular fare increases, especially when they are not in line with service increases.  I will be working with my colleagues to save the $40 million raid of the MTA budget.”

State Assembly Member Francisco P. Moya said, “With transit fares increasing year after year, it is especially aggravating that funds slated for the MTA could potentially be diverted for other purposes. Efficient, clean, and timely public transportation is an essential component of keeping the New York Metropolitan Area running smoothly. My constituents would like to see increased service and lower fares, so I can’t—in good conscience—support underfunding public transit services.”

State Assembly Member Nily Rozic, a member of the Corporations & Authorities Committee who represents a transit desert, said, “Now more than ever, New York should be investing in our infrastructure and transit needs.  Taking much-needed funding out of the transit budget in order to pay off debt flies in the face of and reneges on our commitment to help commuters.”

Alejandro Gaviria, a member of the Riders Alliance and Jackson Heights resident, said, “It is unjust that the Governor is stealing $40 million from riders.  If his proposed budget is passed, we are the ones that will have to pay the cost. As a worker, I can’t pay for another fare hike, and my job won’t wait for bad public transportation.”

George Christman, a member of the Riders Alliance and resident of Astoria, said, “Sometimes I have to wait for the bus for up to 45 minutes. Service is already unreliable and with the Governor’s proposal, I fear that my bus service may get worse. As somebody on a fixed income, I can’t afford another fare increase. The money that the Governor is proposing to take away was meant for maintaining an affordable and reliable transit system. Without the money, riders will have to pay the bill.”

John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance, said, New Yorkers depend on a strong and accessible public transportation system.  But with fares increasing every couple years, the system is becoming less affordable for working New Yorkers. These revenue sources were created to fund public transportation and they should continue to do so. Now is the time to be investing in public transportation, not stealing funds away from it.”

Cate Contino, Campaign Coordinator for the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, said, “The Governor’s budget proposes yet another raid of dedicated transit funds. His raid in 2010 triggered the worst service cuts in a generation. His raids in 2011 and 2013 led to fares hike. What new suffering will this most recent swipe rain down on riders? Time will tell and the riders will hold the Governor accountable.”

Ryan Lynch, Associate Director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said, “Governor Cuomo’s proposal to divert millions of dollars in dedicated funds away from transit is bad policy that puts subways, buses, and rail service at risk. This $40M can be used to improve transit in the region with new bus projects and better technology throughout the transit system. We call on the state legislature to reject this proposal and ensure these funds are used for its intended purpose: transit.”

Joshua Klainberg, Senior Vice President for the New York League of Conservation Voters, said, “When dollars are diverted from transit, fares increase, service declines and riders are late to work, medical appointments and family events. Even worse, more people choose to drive and that clogs our roads and pollutes our air. Advocates have a simple message for the Governor and the legislature: The MTA is not an ATM. Invest in our transit infrastructure.”

William Henderson, Executive Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, said, “This proposal to raid dedicated transit funds is unacceptable and breaks commitments that the State has made to fund essential services.  From past experience we know that the results of enacting this proposal will be fewer buses and trains, higher fares, and a degraded experience for riders.”


Wednesday, November 13th, 2013


Read more


The MTA announced today, in their November Financial Plan, that they will reduce their projected fare revenue increases. The MTA reduced their projected fare increase in their budget from 7.5% to 4%. Fares have risen by 29% since 2007–which is twice the rate of inflation. The Riders Alliance praises the MTA for making this sound decision.

“The MTA’s reduction in projected fare increase is good news for riders, especially working and middle class New Yorkers who are hit hard by fare hikes and are often without other transit options, says John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance”.

The MTA’s decision will slow the rapid increase of fares that contribute to this city’s affordability crisis, and we thank the MTA for doing it.”


April 21, 2013
Transit Riders, Elected Officials Rally to Demand MTA Invest $40 Million Unexpected Surplus in Expanded Train and Bus Service

New State Budget Includes $40 Million
More Than MTA Expected in Its Budget

Ridership Highest Since 1950, New Numbers Show— Crowded Buses and Trains Need Immediate Relief

Read more


NEW YORK, NY—Members of the Riders Alliance, along with elected officials, a member of the MTA board and other transit advocates, rallied today to demand that Governor Cuomo and the MTA restore and improve subway and bus service using $40 million in new MTA revenue that was not predicted in the MTA’s last budget.

The 2013-14 state budget passed in March included an increase of more than $358 million in operating support for subways, buses and commuter rail—an approximately 9% increase over what the state provided to MTA operations in 2012-2013.  The increase exceeded the MTA’s budget assumption by $40 million, largely because transit-dedicated taxes brought in more money than expected due to a recovering economy.

Subway and bus riders, advocates and elected officials requested today that Governor Cuomo and the MTA use the unexpected $40 million to create a Service Restoration and Enhancement Fund, which could restore some of the service the MTA cut in 2010, as well as increase service on existing bus and train lines.


As background:

  • in 2010, the MTA cut service by $93 million annually to save money, cutting 32 bus routes and reducing or eliminating 3 subway lines;

  • partial restorations since then have brought back $29 million in service restorations and new bus routes, but not the rest;

  • meanwhile, according to MTA data released last week, weekday ridership is at its highest level since the year 1950.


In the attached letter to the MTA, New York’s leading transportation advocates wrote that service enhancements could include:

  • restoring weekend and off-peak service that was cut in 2010 for millions of subway riders, who now have longer trips and waits, more crowding and extra transfers;

  • restoring bus service that was cut in 2010 and providing routes to new markets;

  • adding LIRR service at the late shoulder PM rush, where trains are becoming crowded;

  • adding reverse peak/off peak service to meet emerging demand on Metro-North; and

  • expanding CityTicket to all off peak hours or both railroads.


John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance, said, “The MTA needs billions, not millions, to provide sufficient transit service to New Yorkers.  But now that there is a little more in the budget than expected, the first priority should be restoring and expanding service for millions of people who rely on MTA buses and trains.  Ridership is at its highest level since 1950, and we have to run more buses and trains to catch up.  $40 million can go a long way to restoring some of the bus and train service we lost in the devastating 2010 service cuts, and to adding new routes that help riders get where they are trying to go.”

Cate Contino, Campaign Coordinator for the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, said “Over the past several years riders have been asked to pay more and more for less and less. It’s not fair. But a $40 million Service Restoration and Enhancement Fund is the perfect opportunity for the MTA to give riders what they need – more and better service.  We commend Commissioners Pally and Cappelli for keeping riders’ needs front and center as the MTA decides what to do with this unexpected windfall.”

Allen P. Cappelli, a member of the MTA board, said “I applaud Governor Cuomo for both his support of additional resources to the MTA, and his leadership in providing innovative cost saving measures as well.  Our riders expect that the MTA seize this opportunity and utilize this money for restoration of some of the cuts of 2010, expand service where overcrowding exists as our ridership grows, and serve new markets as the face of our city and region continues to change.”

Andrew Albert, Chair of the New York City Transit Riders Council, said, “With Governor Cuomo and the State approving almost $40 million for the MTA, it isn’t too much of a stretch to believe that the Governor wants the MTA to restore many of the services that were cut in June of 2010. New Yorkers – whether they ride the buses, subways, or commuter rails – expect nothing less.”

Ryan Lynch, Associate Director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said,”Three years later, transit riders are still feeling the impacts of the worst service cuts in a generation, and paying more on top of it. These additional revenues must be used to add service to underserved communities and to expand service where ridership is growing.”

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said, “So many people are frustrated every day by their commutes.  Increased waiting times, diminished service, inadequate service to newly developed areas of the city and crowded buses and trains make getting around the city really difficult.  With ridership soaring, it makes sense to direct unexpected operating funds to restore and/or improve service for riders.”

State Senator Brad Hoylman said, “I applaud the Riders Alliance for organizing thisrally and highlighting the extra $40 million allocated to the MTA in the recently passed state budget. Subway and bus users shouldn’t have to endure service cuts while the MTA is sitting on an unexpected surplus.”

State Senator Liz Krueger said, “”Mass transit is the engine that keeps greater New York’s economy running, but in recent years straphangers have been hit with successive fare hikes and service cuts that, if we had properly invested in the system, should not have been necessary.  When the MTA discovers savings or surpluses, we owe it to transit riders to make sure that money is reinvested into improving or expanding service.”

State Senator Daniel Squadron said, “New Yorkers depend on the access bus and subway service provides every day of the week and every time of day. Yet transitservice gets cut — which is simply unacceptable in a city, and particularly in under-served neighborhoods, that continue to grow. That’s why any budget surplus should and must go toward restoring and improving the transit services on which our city relies — especially in the wake of yet another fare increase. Thank you to RidersAlliance and all the transit advocates making their voice heard. I look forward to continuing to work with the MTA to improve rider experience through bus and subway restorations, Full Line Reviews like the one currently underway on the G, and a protected and enhanced funding stream for the agency.”

Assemblymember Jim Brennan said, “The MTA should realize that service restorations are a top priority for the riding public and begin evaluating options in that regard.”

Assembly Member Micah Kellner said, “For far too long, the Empire State’s masstransit system has been starved of the revenues needed to maintain the subway, bus and train service that take New Yorkers where they need to go. This unexpected uptick in MTA revenues should be dedicated to restoring service that was previously cut and meeting the historic surge in ridership that signals New York’s continuing economic recovery.”

Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol said, “With the revelation of this unexpected revenue, the findings of the G-train full line review will now have the funding to make the much needed upgrades for this line. Improving the MTA service in Brooklyn should be a top priority, as the population continues to quickly grow their transportation needs must be met and this additional funding can serve as a great service to the people in my district.”

Assemblywoman Nily Rozic said, “Public transportation is vital to the communities of Eastern Queens, where most live in a transit desert, having limited access to trains and relying heavily on buses to get to work, school or important appointments.  The MTA must realize that now more than ever the loss of service continues to impact our community and the MTA must do everything it can to restore and expand service for riders who all depend on it. I’m proud to stand with Riders Alliance, my colleagues in government and transit advocates to ensure that the MTA provide reliable service and invest in the strength and resiliency of our transit system.”

Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas said, “It is my sincere hope that any unexpected surplus funds be re-invested by the MTA to restore service in areas affected by previous cuts, particularly here in our growing community of Western Queens. With such a rapid increase in ridership, it is the MTA’s obligation to return service to a level that can accommodate this increased demand for public transit.”

Assemblyman David I. Weprin said, “All I ever seem to hear about are cuts being made to services or fare hikes.  It is rarely the case where riders can benefit from an available surplus of funds.  With ridership being at its highest level since 1950, what we have here is the opportunity to use the $40 million dollar surplus to help restore some of the cuts that were made back in 2010 by the MTA.  This would ease some of the longer trips, longer waits, and constant overcrowding that subway and busriders face everyday”

Council Member Gale Brewer said, “With ridership on our buses and subways at record highs, and with many straphangers still smarting from the latest fare hike, there is no question that the MTA should thank riders by using this $40 million revenue boost to enhance service. New Yorkers have been bearing the brunt of the MTA’s fiscal crisis for years, and this windfall is the perfect opportunity for the Authority to give something back. As any passenger on an overcrowded train, or bus rider waiting 20 minutes in the cold can attest, there is a clear need for added service. I join residents, advocates, and my fellow elected officials in demanding that the MTA use this money for the betterment of all straphangers in the form of more trains and buses in our City.”

Councilwoman Sara M. González said, “As the Council Member for Sunset Park and Red Hook, I am joining with residents, visitors,  business owners, organizations, schools, churches and workers of my District in our demand for the full restoration of the B37 bus service along Third Avenue.  The B37 bus line connected my constituents to places including Lutheran Medical Center, Costco, Downtown Brooklyn, the Atlantic Center Mall, and would now serve the Barclays Center.  The effects have been most detrimental to our working families, our low-income residents, our students, our seniors and people with disabilities, whether their transportation needs are for employment, entertainment, to visit medical facilities or other personal choices.”

Council Member Letitia James said, “It is a fact that rising MTA fares are adding an additional burden on working families in New York. I would hope that the authority would invest excess funds into the restoration of troubled lines, and the increase of services in rapidly-developing neighborhoods.”

Council Member Jessica Lappin said, “Any surplus should directly benefit the ridersand increase service.”

Council Member Stephen Levin said, “Everyone knows that New Yorkers have things to do – places to go, people to visit, work to be done. With ridership increasing year after year and previous cuts yet to be restored, every dollar available to the MTA that improves our transit system must be put to use.  I am proud to stand with RidersAlliance to demand that Governor Cuomo and the MTA use this unexpected $40 million so that subway and bus service can be restored.”

Councilwoman Debi Rose said, “Straphangers are seeing a serious erosion of services in three important areas – employee protection, rider protection, and service enhancement. In the difficult economic environment we are in, an unexpected $40 million surplus in the MTA’s budget is a godsend – it is only common sense that it should be used for a Service Restoration and Enhancement fund.  I strongly support this initiative. My district lost several bus routes and had other bus routes significantly curtailed with budget cuts enacted by the MTA in 2010. In addition, the North Shore of Staten Island was battered by Hurricane Sandy – transportation off the Island was suspended for days, and bus transportation was spotty at best for weeks following the hurricane.  The combination of reduced services during disasters and the reduction of services following budget cuts in 2010 have had a severe and damaging economic impact in my district with constituents unable to get to work off the Island and local businesses unable to operate or facing ever increasing hurdles to operate. And with limited rail service available from the Staten Island Railroad, my constituents are more and more dependent on ever eroding bus services. This Fund is desperately needed to help restore and improve much needed transportation services in my district.”

Councilman James Vacca said, “This is an opportunity for the MTA to see how they can improve service and make much-needed restorations now that New Yorkers are riding the subway and buses more than ever. MTA needs to review the impact its service cuts have had on deprived communities, especially in the outer boroughs.”

Council Member Peter F. Vallone Jr. said, “Commuters made an investment in the MTA by paying higher fares – now the MTA has to invest in the public by resuming the train and bus service they cut throughout Queens.”

Thomasin Bentley, a member of the Riders Alliance and a resident of Brooklyn, said, “When the MTA cut service in 2010, I lost the B69 bus.  I used that bus to go shopping and visit friends.  Now I rely on the B61, which doesn’t work as well because ever since the service cuts it has to cover more territory.  And it’s not just me.  Lots of people in Brooklyn and other parts of New York relied on bus service that we lost, and now it takes us longer to get wherever we’re trying to go.”

Carol Wierzbicki, a member of the Riders Alliance and resident of Brooklyn, said, “I used to take the Union Street bus to do my shopping, and if I had to go to the store I could just take it two stops.  I also used it to go to the park.  My friend and I are in our fifties, and we don’t want to have to walk so far to get to the park.  I want my bus back!”


Monday, June 3, 2013

8 Candidates for Mayor Call on MTA to Use Its $40 Surplus to Increase Service

Joined in Call By 38 Elected Officials

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Today, eight major candidates for mayor—joined by 38 Federal, State and City elected officials—called on the leadership of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to “use higher-than-anticipated funds from this year’s State budget to restore and increase subway, bus and commuter service.” (See letter attached and below.)

In the letter, the officials noted that state aid exceeded the MTA’s budget assumptions by $40 million.

“We believe this money can and should be used to maintain and increase service,” wrote the officials.

The officials pointed to restoring weekend and off-peak subway service that was cut in 2010 for millions of subway riders, as well as restoring bus and commuter service also cut in 2010.

Two transit riders groups, the Riders Alliance and the Straphangers Campaign, released the letter today. The groups plan to read it during the public comment period at the start of the MTA Board meeting on Wednesday.

Of the ten major candidates for mayor, two are not on the letter, Joseph Lhota and John Catsimatidis. Mr. Lhota said that he did not sign group letters and the

Catsimitidis campaign did not respond to repeated inquires.


The letter:


June 3, 2013


Fernando Ferrer                                                Thomas Prendergast

Acting Chairman                                                Interim Executive Director

MTA                                                                        MTA

347 Madison Avenue                                        347 Madison Avenue

New York, NY 10017                                         New York, NY 10017


Re: Restore and Increase Service


Dear Acting Chairman Ferrer and Interim Executive Director Prendergast:


We write to urge the MTA to use higher-than-anticipated funds from this year’s State budget to restore and increase subway, bus and commuter service.


In the 2013-2014 State budget, the MTA received an increase of more than $358 million in operating support for subways, buses and commuter rail.  This increase exceeded the MTA’s budget assumptions by $40 million.


The goal of the increased funding is clear:  As a spokesperson for the Governor said: “The State is investing even more in the MTA so it can continue to serve as the circulatory system of the region’s economy and the keystone of the daily lives of millions.”


We believe this money can and should be used to maintain and increase service. This includes restoring weekend and off-peak service that was cut in 2010 for millions of subway riders, who now have longer trips and waits, more crowding and extra transfers. Similarly, bus and commuter service that was cut in 2010 could be restored and routes to new markets added.


At least two MTA Board members – Allen Cappelli and Mitch Pally – have already spoken up about the pressing need to restore service: “We feel the money is there and this should be part of the process.  We ought to be looking for ways to give back to riders. We did the fare and toll increases, and people have the right to expect we’d look to expand service.”


The MTA should invest its extra funds in restoring and enhancing much-needed transit service for millions of daily riders.



Christine C. Quinn, City Council Speaker

Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate

John Liu, Comptroller

Bill Thompson

Anthony Weiner

Sal Albanese

Adolfo Carrion

George McDonald

Candidates for Mayor of the City of New York

Yvette Clarke, Member of Congress

Carolyn Maloney, Member of Congress

Marty Markowitz, Borough President

Eric Adams, State Senator

Martin Dilan, State Senator

Michael Gianaris, State Senator

Brad Hoylman, State Senator

Liz Krueger, State Senator

Andrew Lanza, State Senator

Daniel Squadron, State Senator

James Brennan, Member of Assembly

William Colton, Member of Assembly

Marcos Crespo, Member of Assembly

Deborah Glick, Member of Assembly

Richard Gottfried, Member of Assembly

Carl Heastie, Member of Assembly

Brian Kavanagh, Member of Assembly

Micah Kellner, Member of Assembly

Joseph Lentol, Member of Assembly

Alan Maisel, Member of Assembly

Nicole Malliotakis, Member of Assembly

Joan Millman, Member of Assembly

Nily Rozic, Member of Assembly

Luis Sepulveda, Member of Assembly

David Weprin, Member of Assembly

Gale A. Brewer, City Council Member

Margaret Chin, City Council Member

Daniel Garodnick, City Council Member

Vincent Gentile, City Council Member

Letitia James, City Council Member

Brad Lander, City Council Member

Jessica Lappin, City Council Member

Stephen Levin, City Council Member

Rosie Mendez, City Council Member

Deborah Rose, City Council Member

James Vacca, City Council Member

Peter F. Vallone, Jr., City Council Member

Jimmy Van Bramer, City Council Member