Ridership highest since 1950, new numbers show – Crowded buses and trains need immediate relief
Queens, NY – Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) joined the advocacy group Riders Alliance and other elected officials and transit advocates on Sunday to call on the MTA to invest a $40 million unexpected surplus in restoring and expanding transit service.
The 2013-14 state budget passed in March included an increase of more than $358 million in operating support for subways, buses and commuter rail – an approximately 9% increase over what the state provided to MTA operations in 2012-2013. The increase exceeded the MTA’s budget assumption by $40 million, largely because transit-dedicated taxes brought in more money than expected due to a recovering economy.
Subway and bus riders, advocates and elected officials requested that Governor Cuomo and the MTA use the unexpected $40 million to create a Service Restoration and Enhancement Fund, which could restore some of the service the MTA cut in 2010, as well as increase service on existing bus and train lines.
• in 2010, the MTA cut service by $93 million annually to save money, cutting 32 bus routes and reducing or eliminating 3 subway lines;
• partial restorations since then have brought back $29 million in service restorations and new bus routes, but not the rest;
• meanwhile, according to MTA data released last week, weekday ridership is at its highest level since the year 1950.
Assemblywoman Nily Rozic said, “Public transportation is vital to the communities of Eastern Queens, where most live in a transit desert, having limited access to trains and relying heavily on buses to get to work, school or important appointments. The MTA must realize that now more than ever the loss of service continues to impact our community and the MTA must do everything it can to restore and expand service for riders who all depend on it. I will continue working with Riders Alliance and transit advocates to ensure that the MTA provide reliable service and invest in the strength and resiliency of our transit system.”
John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance, said, “The MTA needs billions, not millions, to provide sufficient transit service to New Yorkers. But now that there is a little more in the budget than expected, the first priority should be restoring and expanding service for millions of people who rely on MTA buses and trains. Ridership is at its highest level since 1950, and we have to run more buses and trains to catch up. $40 million can go a long way to restoring some of the bus and train service we lost in the devastating 2010 service cuts, and to adding new routes that help riders get where they are trying to go.”
Jesse Rosenbaum, Chair of the Transportation Committee of Community Board 8 said, “Queens subway and bus riders face overcrowding and ever-increasing wait times. In a community of students, working families and seniors, it is the MTA’s obligation to work with us and prioritize restoration and expansion for areas that neighborhoods in dire need of better transit options.”