ALBANY—A coalition of Assemblymembers, along with advocates for public transportation, held a press conference at the Legislative Offices Building in Albany on Wednesday, March 16, to discuss funding for non-MTA transit systems and appropriations for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure improvements throughout communities in New York state.
The funding increase in the Assembly’s budget includes $308.5 million in operating assistance for non-MTA transit systems downstate—an increase of $5 million over Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget proposal, and $208 million in operating assistance for upstate transit systems—an increase of $15 million over Cuomo’s proposal. The Assembly budget also marks the first time that bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure funding is a separate budget appropriation, with $20 million proposed.
“The Assembly’s investment in transportation finally provides funding for all users of the road, whether they are a pedestrian, a user of public transit, or a motorist,” said Assemblymember Patricia A. Fahy (D-Albany). “This unprecedented appropriation for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure improvements will make an incredible impact of the lives of all New Yorkers.”
“I want to thank Assemblywoman Fahy and her colleagues in the Assembly for being staunch supporters of mass transit and understanding the value CDTA provides to our community,” said CDTA CEO and NYPTA President Carm Basile. “CDTA ridership has increased by close to 25 percent over the past five years, and we have broken our all-time ridership records for the last two years running. Our total annual boarding count now exceeds 17 million. We all benefit from transit systems that provide outstanding mobility services to compliment state and local economies. This is especially true here in the Capital Region and our ridership growth is testament to our impact on jobs and economic growth in our communities.”
“As the Capital Region continues to grow and evolve, it is critical that we support the efforts of many communities to encourage healthy living. Pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure is a passion of mine and something that I supported during my time as Mayor when we built miles of trails in my hometown of Cohoes. It is those trails along the waterfront and through the Erie Canal that assisted in our community’s recovery and made it an up and coming bedroom community. Support for communities is critical and one that I am pleased to support as we make the Capital Region an even better place,” said Assemblymember John T. McDonald III (D-Cohoes).
“AARP applauds Assembly Members Fahy, McDonald, [Shelley] Mayer and [Sean]Ryan and their colleagues for addressing the importance of pedestrian safety with a proposed $20 million addition to the state budget – including a first-ever appropriation specifically for funding pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure improvements,” said Beth Finkel, state director of AARP for New York state. “Pedestrian safety is hugely important to aging adults, who are much more susceptible to pedestrian fatalities than younger New Yorkers. An AARP-commissioned 2014 survey of New York voters 50 and over found large numbers cited traffic safety-related issues as problems in their communities, including cars not yielding to pedestrians (66 percent), streets in need of repair (80 percent), non-existent sidewalks or sidewalks that are poorly lit, too narrow or in need of repair (62 percent), and traffic lights timed too fast for safe pedestrian crossing (47 percent).”
“It’s great to see the Legislature coming through on the promise it made by passing the Complete Streets law in 2011,” said Parks and Trains New York Executive Director Robin Dropkin. “The funding included in the Assembly budget, and hopefully soon to be approved by the Senate as well, will allow communities to build the sidewalks, bike lanes, and multi-use trails that make walking and biking real transportation choices for all of us. When this happens, all New Yorkers should celebrate as it will be a milestone for our transportation system.”