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State Lawmakers & RTS Call for Robust Funding Increase for Public Transit in Final NYS Budget

March 27, 2024

RTS seeks a 15% increase in funding and new, sustainable dedicated revenue sources to fund growth of transit system

Rochester, NY: 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 Sarah Clark, Jennifer Lunsford, and Demond Meeks, and Senators Samra Brouk and Jeremy Cooney joined RTS CEO Miguel Velázquez for the press conference.

To keep up with the impact of inflation and meet the growing needs of the community, RTS is asking for a 15% increase in transit funding, a fully funded third year of the current five-year non-MTA capital plan, and new, sustainable sources of dedicated revenue that will help support the growth of the public transit system. A robust increase in transit funding in the state budget will help expand access to critical destinations and services for customers, including those from disadvantaged communities.

Governor Kathy Hochul got the legislative session moving in the right direction by including in her proposed budget a 5.4% increase in funding for upstate transit systems. Thanks to the leadership and support of our local members of the State Senate and Assembly, their one-house budgets include increases of 15% and 7.2%, respectively. They include an increase in capital funding beyond what the governor included in her budget proposal, and the Senate proposal includes a new, dedicated source of revenue – a $1 TNC assessment – to help support funding increases into the future.

“Accessible, comprehensive, and reliable public transit is an important measure for improving equity and outcomes for our communities,” said Assemblymember Harry Bronson. “RTS brings people to work, to school, to doctors’ appointments, friends’ houses, on their daily errands, and so much more. They also provide good union jobs to workers throughout our region. I am proud to stand with my delegation colleagues to support a robust investment in transit systems so that RTS can continue to expand routes, increase connectivity, and bring more people to where they want and need to go.”

“Increasing state funding for public transportation systems is an equity issue,” said Senator Samra Brouk. “At RTS bus stops across our community, you’ll find people on their way to the grocery store and going to work, to school and to doctor appointments. For low-income and Black and Brown communities, a well-funded and fully operational public transportation system like RTS is an absolute necessity for economic and educational opportunity, and that’s why I am continuing to fight this week for increased funding for RTS in the final state budget.”

“Having accessible and reliable public transportation is a critical need for our community and our residents,” said Assemblymember Sarah Clark. “Investing more state dollars into our transit services in this final state budget would expand access for those needing it most, increase routes and ensure our most disadvantaged communities are better able to have their transportation needs met. The funding increases proposed in the Senate and Assembly one-house budgets will help balance the ongoing challenges inflation poses on RTS here in Rochester while also expanding services to meet the growing demands of the 10 million plus people served annually.”

“Every day, people across our community rely on RTS to get to work, go to the grocery store, and to navigate our city,” said Senator Jeremy Cooney. “That’s why we included record funding for transit systems in the Senate’s one-house budget proposal, because an investment in public transportation is an investment in a stronger community. I’m proud to join alongside the Rochester delegation to push for this higher funding in this year’s state budget and ensure RTS has the resources they need to best serve the Greater Rochester Region.”

“Public transportation is the lifeblood of New York City's economy, but outside of the city, public transportation is underfunded and underutilized,” said Assemblymember Jennifer Lunsford. “Public transportation is an essential component of our climate action plan, of our anti-poverty initiatives and our economic development programs. But our funding does not reflect the importance of this role. I stand with my Upstate colleagues to demand parity and robust investment to allow our public transportation systems to provide the service our communities need and deserve.”

"Public transportation systems serve as an essential resource that connects our residents and families to a variety of services in our region,” said Assemblyman Demond Meeks. “Investing in the people of Greater Rochester means investing in reliable and efficient transportation. By offering a variety of transportation services, the RTS public transit system directly contributes to improving the quality of life for members of our community. This is especially true for those without access to private vehicles. It is critical that we deliver meaningful investments that will continue to provide accessible and affordable transportation for our city and our communities therein.”

“A safe, reliable, convenient, and sustainable public transit system is a key component to achieving many of our community’s goals and improving the quality of life of our customers – especially those in disadvantaged communities,” said RTS CEO Miguel Velázquez. “One of the best ways to ensure RTS can continue and expand this work is to ensure it is well-funded. I thank Governor Hochul and our representatives in the State Legislature for their support and efforts to achieve this goal. A great next step is to include in the final New York State Budget the level of transit funding that the State Senate included in their one-house budget.”

Governor Hochul and the Legislature are working to finalize the budget by the start of the new fiscal year on April 1.

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