NEW YORK — On Monday, a who’s who of the city’s political establishment — mainly Democrats, but at least one Republican — denounced the new Republican-sponsored House transportation bill, saying it will strip away the dedicated funding stream for what is known as the Mass Transit Account.
This account, part of the government’s Highway Trust Fund, allows states, municipalities and local transit agencies to plan and fund capital projects. In New York City, the Mass Transit Account funds key investments in the city’s subways, buses, commuter rails and other forms of public transit.
Slashing this funding stream, say those protesting the bill, will result in a loss of $1.7 billion for New York state.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan/Brooklyn) said, “In the GOP bill, mass transit would be dependent on appropriations from general revenue for the first time in 30 years, rather than being funded, as it has been, from the Highway Trust Fund. Such a shift in federal priority could be catastrophic for urban centers like New York, which rely on mass transit for basic mobility and economic functioning.”
“We are extremely disappointed that this legislation would gut the Mass Transit Account by diverting nearly half of the federal investment in public transit that comes from fuel tax revenue. Such a move would have a significant impact on the ability of the city and the MTA to fund capital projects, as well as jeopardize much-needed mass-transit services and threaten jobs in this critical sector,” said Vincent Alvarez, president of NYC Central Labor Council.
“The House bill turns its back on decades of better transit in New York and all around America,” said Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for New York Public Interest Research Group Straphangers Campaign, a transit riders group.
Janette Sadik-Khan, New York City transportation commissioner, said, “This is an unprecedented departure from bipartisan support for a unified surface transportation program. Funding for bus and rail projects would be catch-as-catch-can, jeopardizing thousands of jobs and undermining progress in modernizing our transportation system.”
Congressman Bob Turner (R-Brooklyn/Queens), said, “Now that the final House bill is taking shape, I have concerns about how the funds will eventually be allocated. We cannot underestimate the importance of providing efficient, safe mass transit, roads, bridges and tunnels to the people who live and commute in New York City. I will not support any bill that does not allow New York City to sufficiently meet those needs.”