Volume 23, Number 3 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | May 28 - June 3, 2010

Bill seeks to raise $2 billion for MTA

Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) unveiled a bill on May 26 to prevent MTA service cuts, keep fee hikes down and avert lay offs for the subway system, Long Island Rail Road and Metro North. The bill is an effort to combat the MTA’s $400 million of debt and both keep and create jobs as New York’s unemployment hovers under 9 percent.

The emergency aid proposal, known as the Public Transportation Preservation Act, would provide $2 billion overall for necessary operating expenses and stymie future fare increases with $345 million in emergency aid to the urban areas of the Tri-State Region.

The MTA will reconfigure the direction of subway lines as Congress deliberates the bill. Starting June 27, the “M” subway line will no longer serve the Lower East Side south of the “Delancey St. – Essex St.” stop through southern Brooklyn, but the “J” and “Z” lines will continue to run through that area.

The M will replace the “V” line north of the Delancey St. – Essex St. stop. There will also be bus line cancellations throughout the city.

“Commuters in New York are outraged by the fare hikes and service cuts that are being considered right now,” said Senator Gillibrand in the press release.

Aaron Donovan, an MTA spokesperson, said it is “too early to tell” how the M line or other transit services would be effected if the Public Transportation Preservation Act is passed. “But we do hope the legislation passes,” he added.

To balance its budget, over one-half of MTA agencies have terminated positions and one-third laid off employees. State funding for the mass transit system dropped by $143 million this year, prompting the MTA to weigh fare increases.

According to William Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association, the MTA creates 36,000 environmentally friendly jobs for every $1 billion invested. “Americans rely on public transportation to go about their daily lives, from getting to work, school, or obtaining medical care,” he said in a statement through the press release.

Schumer stressed the importance of passing the legislation in the press release, saying “to rebuild the economy and get people back to work ... it is essential that we take strong action to ensure the middle class can afford to use public transit.”

— Michael Mandelkern

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