March 22, 2022
During a virtual press conference today, New York State lawmakers and the Regional Transit Service (RTS) called for the inclusion of robust funding for public transit in the final state budget. New York State Assemblymembers Harry Bronson, Sarah Clark, Jennifer Lunsford, and Demond Meeks, and Senator Jeremy Cooney joined RTS CEO Bill Carpenter for the press conference.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for transit as the mobility safety net became a necessity for many people in the community. These neighbors relied on transit to access essential destinations such as employment centers, medical and mental health facilities, grocery stores, and other retail locations. A robust increase in transit funding in the state budget will help expand access to these and other critical destinations.
Governor Kathy Hochul got the session off to a good start by including in her proposed budget a 36 percent increase for the downstate suburban systems and a 13 percent increase for the upstate systems. Thanks to the support and hard work of our local members of the State Senate and Assembly, their respective one-house budgets included a 36 percent increase for upstate systems to match the increase for the downstate systems. With just under two weeks left to finalize the state budget, lawmakers and transit systems are working to ensure the increased funding level included in the one-house budgets is also included in the final budget.
“Today, I stand with my Greater Rochester Area State Delegation partners committed to delivering for upstate public transit in this year’s budget”, said Assemblymember Harry Bronson. “With this increase in funding we are creating more parity between upstate and downstate public transit funding. Upstate public transit is the great equalizer – more families will have reliable transportation because of this funding increase. Investing in upstate public transit is good for the environment, our educational institutions, and our regional economy. Once again the Greater Rochester Area State Delegation is delivering for the people of Monroe County.”
"Public transportation is more than a downstate issue,” said Senator Samra Brouk. “Across our community, individuals and families rely on public transit to get to and from work, school, appointments, and more. This is especially true for Black and Brown communities, many of which have been historically neglected and have minimal resources within walking distance. Investing in transit means we are investing in families, jobs, education, and the overall wellness of our community. There must be parity between the funding that upstate and downstate transportation systems receive, and I’m proud to champion this effort alongside my colleagues in the Rochester delegation.”
“RTS and bus systems like them keep our upstate cities moving,” said Senator Jeremy Cooney, “Thousands of Rochesterians rely on RTS every day to travel to work and school, get to local shops and restaurants, and visit cultural attractions. I am proud to work with my colleagues in the legislature and with Governor Hochul to ensure investments in upstate transit systems are prioritized in the final budget.”
“Our public transit service plays a vital role in our community, by helping individuals get to work, school, appointments, and run countless errands every day,” said Assemblymember Sarah Clark. “Throughout the pandemic, the services provided by our public transit systems were critical to ensure our essential workers could get to work and allowed us to meet challenging public health needs. At a time when unpredictable change brought on by the pandemic plagued our state, RTS stepped up to help shoulder these crises. Now, New York State must step up, and take this opportunity to properly fund our transit systems to meet the ongoing needs of our community. I am grateful to RTS for providing reliable transportation to get across Monroe County safely, and sometimes, at little to no cost to passengers. If additional funding is granted, our transit systems will have what they need to grow and evolve for years to come.”
“Transit dollars are an essential component of our economic recovery plan,” said Assemblymember Jennifer Lunsford. “Workforce development requires reliable transportation to and from work, so this money will go a long way towards helping our community rebound! I am also proud to support additional funding in the Assembly one-house budget, including $20.7 million above the Governor's proposal for Upstate transit, and $100 million over five-years to maintain that $20 million increased funding level. I want to extend a huge thank you to Governor Hochul for hearing our concerns and understanding the importance of public transportation to places like Monroe County!”
"Our public transit system is an essential resource, both economically and socially,” said Assemblymember Demond Meeks. “Thousands of members of our community depend on public transportation service to access local resources and opportunities for employment. That is why we included funding for RTS in the one house budget and we will fight to secure it in the final budget.”
“Public transportation is the mobility safety net for so many in our community because they rely on us to get to work, school, medical appointments, the grocery store, and to pick up their children from daycare,” said RTS CEO Bill Carpenter. “Robust transit that is frequent, reliable, and connected drives job growth and economic recovery. It opens up access to critical mental health services. It helps people transition from poverty to prosperity. And it provides a lifeline for senior citizens who want to maintain their independence. I thank Governor Hochul and our representatives in the State Legislature for their support and ask that they include in the final budget the level of funding included in the one-house budgets from the Senate and Assembly.”
In addition to the requested increase in state operating assistance for transit, RTS is also asking for a well-funded, five-year capital plan to address growing capital and infrastructure needs. This funding will help RTS upgrade aging facilities, build new facilities, and make the investments necessary to transition to zero-emission vehicles by 2035.
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