Affordable Transit

Assemblyman Rodriguez, 14 Co-Sponsors Intro Move NY Legislation

MEDIA RELEASE

FOR DISTRIBUTION:  IMMEDIATE

March 24, 2016

Press Contact: Jordan Salinger jordan.salinger@gmail.com (949) 735-8515

 

 ASSEMBLYMAN RODRIGUEZ & ASSEMBLY CO-SPONSORS

INTRODUCE UNPRECEDENTED

TRANSPORTATION INVESTMENT LEGISLATION

 Generates over $12 billion for region’s transportation infrastructure

Creates 30,000+ new local jobs and fills transit gaps in underserved areas

Empowers local communities with direct input on $4.5 billion worth of select projects

(New York, NY) Today, a coalition of New York State Assembly Members unveiled groundbreaking legislation that not only will fund MTA capital needs but will create a $4.5 billion Transit Gap Investment Fund (TGIF) to expand public transit and improve accessibility for millions of New Yorkers, particularly those who live in so-called “transit deserts.”

Introduced by Assembly Member Robert J. Rodriguez, Chair of the Subcommittee on Infrastructure, and joined by 14 co-sponsors from across the city, if enacted Assembly bill A09633 will raise $1.35 billion in new, annual revenue and, when bonded, will generate over $12 billion for upgrading our transit system and road and bridge network. In addition to the Transit Gap Investment Fund (TGIF), the legislation could cover the $7.3 billion in MTA capital needs and will create a $375 million annual revenue stream for maintaining the City’s roads and bridges.

Co-sponsors include Assemblymembers Michael Benedetto, Michael Blake, Jim Brennan, Marcos A. Crespo, Richard N. Gottfried, Andrew Hevesi, Latoya Joyner, Guillermo Linares, Walter Mosley, Félix W. Ortiz, Dan Quart, Linda Rosenthal, Luis Sepúlveda, and Jo Anne Simon.

To ease the burden on working New Yorkers living in transit-challenged communities, $121 million a year will allow substantial fare reductions on traditionally more expensive modes of transit such as Express Buses and intra-city commuter rail.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address some of the biggest weaknesses in our transit system. This plan will provide a steady and significant source of revenue for the MTA, allow transit starved communities to fund critical improvement projects, and relieve congestion.” – Assemblyman Robert J. Rodriguez (Manhattan, 68th District).

The TGIF is specifically designed to expand service in parts of the City where there’s no subway service and inadequate bus service. For the first time in the City’s history, elected representatives will work with their communities and with the MTA and NYCDOT to set priorities for transit investment in their districts, assuring that communities suffering from poor transit access will finally see some relief.

The TGIF will have a board comprised of State and City elected officials, including the Governor, Senate Majority Leader, Speaker of the Assembly, Mayor of New York City, five Borough Presidents, New York City Council Speaker, and the Council’s Transportation Committee Chair.

Inter-borough projects to be considered by the board for approval include the Triboro Line subway connecting Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx; capital improvements on the G train; LIRR subway conversion between Brooklyn and Queens; new ferries and Express Bus service; Staten Island North Shore Bus Rapid Transit; and new bike and pedestrian lanes on the Verrazano and Brooklyn Bridges.

The legislation also addresses a widespread concern that some subway stations and bus stops have historically received far more attention than others. The legislation will earmark $1 billion dollars for local projects to be allocated equitably among Community Districts in all five boroughs. Each district will have $15-$21 million to work with to make their transit hubs more accessible based on priority needs (e.g., repaired stairways, station elevators, bus shelters, Vision Zero streetscaping). Likewise, a $700 million Suburban County Transit Fund is established under the legislation, which county officials can use to subsidize county bus service and improve access to commuter rail by increasing parking capacity at select stations, adding shuttle service, and adopting other strategies for facilitating the use of LIRR and Metro North service.

The legislation is modeled after the Move NY Fair Plan, developed by “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz and the Move NY coalition, which proposed lowering tolls on all MTA bridges – that connect areas where there tends to be less traffic and fewer transit options ­– and restoring or adding tolls to crossings in areas where there’s more traffic and better transit options. Thus, tolls will be reduced by up to 48% on the Triboro, Whitestone, Throgs Neck, Verrazano, Gil Hodges, Cross Bay, and Henry Hudson Bridges. Crossing into and out of Manhattan’s central business district via bridge or across 60th Street will be tolled at the same rate as the Queens Midtown and the Brooklyn Battery tunnels, which, by harmonizing the tolls, will eliminate bridge shopping and decrease asthma rates and vehicle crashes, injury, and deaths that that go with it.

To assuage concerns that the reduced tolls could revert back after the new tolls are implemented, the legislation locks in the ratio of newly lowered “outer bridge” tolls to the central business district tolls such that if the ratios were to be ignored in future toll setting, the new tolls on the central business district bridges and along 60th Street would automatically be revoked, thus guaranteeing that the ratio won’t be violated. With the installation of gateless tolls and the reduction of traffic, vehicle travel speeds are estimated to improve by up to 20% south of Central Park and up to 8% in areas outside the central business district – in Brooklyn, Queens and Northern Manhattan.

For-hire vehicles are exempt from business district tolling but will add a surcharge when traveling within the “taxi exclusionary zone” – Manhattan south of 96th Street on the east side of Central Park and south of 110th Street on the west side of the Park. Tolls on all commercial vehicles will be capped at one round-trip toll per day (i.e., per 24-hour period) in order to facilitate business activity. In an earlier report, HR&A Advisors estimated the Move NY Fair Plan would create 30,500 new, annually recurring local jobs.

Assemblyman Rodriguez will be inviting his colleagues from the rest of the 12-county MTA region, in Long Island and the Hudson Valley, to sign on as co-sponsors of the bill next week.

Cornell University has provided an easy online way to learn about and comment on this important legislation. People can go to http://nyc.smartparticipation.com/ to find clear explanations and the rationale for each part of the bill. The site also allows the public to provide thoughts and reactions, which will be shared with legislators.

Assemblymember Michael Blake (Bronx, 79th District) said, “The Move NY legislation is about increasing personal freedom. These transportation projects will help connect residents of the Bronx with education and economic opportunities throughout the city while stimulating Bronx businesses by making it easier for non-residents to visit our community. Accessible quality public transportation is the key to improving the wellbeing of our residents. This legislation will go a long way toward #BuildingABetterBronx.”

 “We as legislators have to think creatively when it comes to funding the MTA. The MTA needs a dedicated funding stream that will bring it the stability needed to plan for future projects while also covering the costs associated with keeping the system in a state of good repair. I will continue to work with my colleagues here in the New York State Assembly to see that the MTA Capital Plan is fully funded as soon as possible.” said Assemblymember Jim Brennan (Brooklyn, 44th District).

“A modern city demands a modern transportation system. It also demands an appropriate and functional funding mechanism to build, maintain and expand it. Besides, decay, New York City and its metropolitan area are both seeing increased density in population and overcrowding in its current mass transportation modes. The proposed Transit Gap Investment Fund (TGIF) will ensure that our city and the region surrounding it has a mass transportation system that will bring us to par with the efficient, effective and beautiful transportation infrastructure that we look to with envy in Western Europe,” declared Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo (Bronx, 85th District), member of the Assembly Transportation Committee.

 Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (Queens, 28th District) said, “I applaud the efforts of Assemblyman Rodriguez for his leadership towards improving our transit system in New York. These proposals are projected to create approximately 30,000 new jobs and generate upwards of $12 billion for our transit system.”

State Senator Brad Hoylman said: “With nearly two billion riders each year, New York City’s public transportation system is essential to the entire Northeast Corridor. To ensure the City remains vital and diverse for years to come, we must provide the MTA with enough resources to keep up with demand and make system-wide upgrades. The Move NY Fair Plan, which would ensure toll equity and fill gaps in the MTA Capital Plan, is a fair and commonsense step towards this goal. I want to thank Assemblyman Rodriguez for bringing attention to this critical issue and look forward to bringing the plan to fruition.”

“Developments in expanding service and improving accessibility of our transit system are imperative for countless New Yorkers,” said Assemblymember Guillermo Linares (Manhattan, 72nd District). “Through this legislation, a Transit Gap Investment Fund (TGIF) will provide many local projects in neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs with funding they profoundly need.”

“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 residents to our communities of central Brooklyn which in turn has put higher stress on our aging transportation system and infrastructure. Overcrowded platforms, unsanitary subway stations, and delay in services can no longer define outer borough transportation service. I am proud that my community residents – across the board – are involved in this dialogue on how do we shape our mass transit system in the coming years; likewise, I look forward to working collaboratively with my colleagues in the State Legislature to push this policy and legislation into law,” said Assemblyman Walter T. Mosley (Brooklyn, 57th District).

“Enactment of this important legislation can go a long way to help connect the Sunset Park and Red Hook waterfronts with MTA bus and subway service” said Assistant Speaker of the Assembly Felix W. Ortiz (Brooklyn, 51st District). My constituents are in need of cheaper and more efficient ways to get to work and around the city. Few buses connect with the waterfront and subways are blocks away. With proposals to expand ferry service and create a new streetcar from Sunset Park to Astoria, an integrated plan is critical. This legislation is a step in the right direction.”

State Senator Jose Peralta (Queens, 13th District) noted, “I supported the Move NY Fair Plan more than a year ago. I believe the plan is reasonable. Tolls on some bridges and fares have grown year after year forcing hardworking New Yorkers to pay more than their fair share. This proposal will bring greater equity in the cost borne by commuters and it will generate revenue needed to improve our transportation system and reduce traffic, and also it will create about 30,000 jobs. I urge all New Yorkers to review the details of this plan, and thank Assemblymember Robert Rodriguez and all those involved in the efforts to improve our transportation system.”

“New York City’s transportation system is the engine that drives the economy of not just New York City, but the entire state. It’s absolutely essential that we fund the maintenance and expansion of our transit fully and consistently. The Move NY plan will do just that, while also allowing for increased modernization of the system,” said Assemblymember Dan Quart (Manhattan, 73rd District).

“Move NY is a new and innovative plan to help fund New York’s transportation infrastructure. It’s time we started looking at transportation through a fresh lens,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (Manhattan, 67th District).

“This unprecedented investment in our transportation infrastructure is absolutely essential for the Bronx, in particular,” said Assemblymember Luis Sepúlveda (Bronx, 87th District), a cosponsor. “We cannot miss this opportunity to make a reality projects such as new ferries between the Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan, a new subway line connecting Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens, new Select Bus routes, and four new Metro North stations.” ​

“I support the bill whole heartedly,” said Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (Brooklyn, 52nd District). “It will make a real difference in the lives of New Yorkers by increasing public transit, lowering inequities in the system of tolling and providing much needed capital dollars to the chronically underfunded transit network New Yorkers and New York’s economy depend on.”

“This innovative, forward-looking plan would transform New York City’s mass transit system and relieve automobile traffic and congestion. It would allow for greater equity in our transit service, help keep traffic flowing, reduce the strain on the MTA, improve the environment, and provide new investments that will grow our city’s transit network. I applaud Assemblymember Rodriguez for his leadership on this important issue, and I’m proud to join him and a broad coalition of transportation and environmental advocates, business associations, civic leaders, good-governance groups, and elected officials who support a fairer and faster transportation system,” said Council Member Mark Levine.

“The Move NY Fair Plan presents a clear path towards filling the MTA funding gap and reducing congestion across the five boroughs,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “In addition, expanding CityTicket into Far Rockaway and including weekdays would go a long way towards improving transit equity on the borders of the outer boroughs. It would also contribute to alleviating the burden on the subways, which get flooded with residents that have no other economically viable transportation options.”

“The Move NY plan presents a sustainable blueprint for fairly funding the NY metropolitan region’s fragile transportation infrastructure. Our transportation systems are in need of overhaul and extensive repairs in order to continue serving as the lifeline of the City and State, and properly serving millions of commuters. This legislation and Move NY provide the most concrete steps to ensure our most valuable transportation assets, such as the MTA, are operational for the foreseeable future,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres of the Bronx.

“It’s great news to have another member of our New York City delegation supporting Move NY in Albany,” said NYC Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. “We have a clear choice to make about the future of our city: more gridlock, more crashes, more pollution; or, a common sense approach to tolling to reinvest in mass transit. I’m glad to see Assembly Member Rodriguez make the right choice today and urge more of my colleagues to follow his lead.”

“Year after year, our bridge tolls and transit fares increase, while our roads remain riddled with potholes and our promised transit expansions go unfunded. Our current transportation system is unjust for my constituents and inefficient for the city as a whole. The Move NY Fair Plan will lower tolls on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and steer badly needed funding to repair crumbling roads and expand our public transit infrastructure, all while decreasing congestion flowing in and out of Manhattan. I support this plan because is fair for Staten Islanders and fair for the city, and I urge our state legislators to send this legislation to our governor,” said Councilmember Debi Rose.

“This legislation presents a golden opportunity to rationalize and improve traffic flows into Manhattan, generate billions in additional revenue for our major long-term transportation needs, and create up to 30,000 new jobs,” said Richard T. Anderson, president of New York Building Congress. “For the sake of the region’s economy and residential quality of life, we urge the New York State Legislature to take swift action on this forward-looking proposal.”

“For far too long New York’s Transit Authorities have had to fill enormous budget gaps with ever increasing tolls and fees, all while our infrastructure erodes and alternatives go unfunded,” said Linda Baran, President & CEO of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce. “The Move NY plan looks to level the playing field, making the necessary changes and investments in our transit system to provide safe, fast, and fair service to all communities. Staten Island’s business community is especially affected, and cannot compete regionally because of high tolls. Under the Move NY plan, commercial and residential vehicles see a marked decrease in tolls – a big first step towards transit equity.”

“Passage of the Move NY Fair Plan will, for the first time in history, dedicate funding to fill serious gaps in our transit system,” said Eddie Bautista, executive director of New York City Environmental Justice Alliance. “These transit deserts are found in communities of color across the five boroughs and create obstacles to high paying jobs, education, health care, and healthy food choices. At 43 minutes, Bronx commuters have the second highest travel time in the nation — stealing precious hours each week that could be spent with friends and family and enjoying recreational activities. The environmental justice community commends our Assemblymembers for introducing this historic legislation, and we urge its swift adoption during this legislative session.”

“I support this plan which makes tolls fair and equitable for all New Yorkers, provides the critical mass transportation funding and allocates the necessary funds to fix our roads and bridges. It’s about time that all NYers are treated fairly and equitably,” said Allen Cappelli, MTA board member and practicing attorney from Staten Island.

“The introduction of this bill creates an opportunity for our State’s leaders to have a serious discussion about how to fund the much needed investments in all transportation infrastructure including roads and bridges as well as mass transit, said Carol Kellermann, president of Citizens Budget Commission. “As the bill recognizes, motor vehicle user fees such as tolls should play a major role in any future transportation funding system.”

“The Waterfront Alliance hails this legislation as an important step toward making the Move NY plan a reality,” said Roland Lewis, president & CEO of the Waterfront Alliance. “The need for adequate and sustained infrastructure funding could not be more pressing, and is crucial to the health of our region’s—and the nation’s—economy. As the foremost advocates for expanded ferry service to link people to jobs in transit-starved waterfront districts, we strongly support the plan’s provision for ferries, which can build on the de Blasio administration’s critical investments to bring Citywide Ferry Service to all New York’s boroughs.”

“As the ‘public goods’ party, the WFP believes that investments in our public schools, universities, libraries, parks and mass transit system are investments that bring New Yorkers together and improve working families’ lives,” said Bill Lipton, executive director of the Working Families Party (WFP). “The Move NY Fair Plan will not only move our mass transit system into the 21st century; it will help move working class and poor New Yorkers into the middle class. Its emphasis on addressing community-based transit needs will open the pathway to higher paying jobs and educational opportunities, righting decades of injustice by filling transit deserts in communities long forgotten.”

“With a growing population and changing commuting patterns, New York stands at a critical juncture: we can boldly address the needs of millions of New Yorkers by investing in our transportation infrastructure, or we can stand idly by as other cities surpass us,” said Alex Matthiessen, Move NY campaign director and president of Blue Marble Project. “The Move NY legislation will #GetNYMoving by expanding transit in areas of the city that have limited options and providing fare relief to those whose long and expensive commutes hinder them from economic access enjoyed by fellow New Yorkers. What’s more, motorists and truckers will benefit from faster commutes, toll relief on the city’s outer bridges, and a first-ever, dedicated revenue stream to maintain the City’s roads and bridges. We commend Assemblyman Rodriguez and his colleagues for their leadership and commitment to funding our transportation system, the lifeblood of the region and a major contributor to the upstate economy. We look forward to working with them and their Senate counterparts to ensure that this enormous opportunity to reinvest in New York isn’t squandered.”

“After many years of improving, public transit in New York has started getting worse again, which is the direct result of underinvestment from our state government,” said John Raskin, executive director of the Riders Alliance. “Subway delays are up more than 50% over the last two years, buses are less reliable each year, and riders are noticing the difference on their commute every day.  We can’t let New York go back to the bad old days of spotty service and broken trains, and we can’t force the MTA into billions of dollars more debt that will result in fare hikes for transit riders.  Move NY would provide a fair, reliable source of funds to modernize and reinforce our creaky transit infrastructure.  Nine million daily subway, bus and commuter rail riders would benefit.”

“It is wonderful to see so many elected officials standing up for our infrastructure,” said Samuel I. Schwartz, former New York City Traffic Commissioner and president of Sam Schwartz Engineering.  “Just last week Washington’s Metro system shut down because of insufficient maintenance.  Our rail, roads, bridges and tunnels will face similar disruptions and worse unless we have a steady and reliable funding source not subject to the whims of the politics and bean counters of the time.”

“Our organization knows that MOVE NY will benefit both New Yorkers and New York businesses,” said Jay Simson, president of the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York, representing 290 firms and 24,000 employees. “Designed to relieve congestion in New York City, this is a forward-looking plan that will produce an immediate economic benefit to the City, while supporting its projected long-term growth.”

“By approving the Move NY Fair Plan, state lawmakers can ensure that New Yorkers get the public transit funding they need,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “This plan gives New Yorkers the opportunity to have a say about which transit projects are most urgently in need of funding in their communities – through the unprecedented Transit Gap Investment Fund. It would also help fund safety improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists across the city, including lanes on the Verrazano and Brooklyn Bridges.”

Tom Wright, president of Regional Plan Association, said: “The Move NY plan will reduce congestion in New York City while spurring economic and environmental benefits throughout the region. We applaud Assemblymember Rodriguez and his co-sponsors for supporting innovative ideas that will bring better mobility to underserved neighborhoods while improving the regional transportation network.”

“Our working communities rely on public transportation, yet large portions of the population remain cut off from the network,” said Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of UPROSE. “The Transit Gap Investment Fund will finally make right the transit wrongs of past decades by bringing new subway, bus, and commuter rail service to our underserved neighborhoods. What’s more, people in our communities will finally have a say in what they need and where they want to see the money invested. With up to $20 million going to each Community District, we can finally see new bus shelters and elevators in stations that have been all but abandoned. Coupled with transit discounts provided under the Move NY legislation, UPROSE finally sees light at the end of the tunnel, and we applaud our legislators for their forward-thinking approach to a problem that’s simply unacceptable in the 21st century and urge its passage.”

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