April 9, 2015
With Funding Expiring May 31, Leaders Call for Increased Dollars, Long-term Bill that Invests in Subways, Buses, Ferries, Roads, Bridges
NEW YORK— Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio joined over 300 leaders across the country – including a bipartisan group of 64 mayors – for national Stand Up for Transportation Day, to call on Congress to pass a long-term transportation bill that increases investment in transit, roads, and bridges.
With the federal transportation bill set to expire on May 31st, Mayor de Blasio joined a broad coalition of bipartisan elected officials, business and labor leaders, and many others, representing over 150 cities and spanning nearly all 50 states for a day that includes events across the country to push Congress to move beyond partisanship and fully fund cities’ transportation infrastructure.
Since 2009, federal funding for transportation infrastructure has remained at the same level, and has come in unreliable short-term patches (some as short as 30 days). The lack of a long-term federal funding bill creates local funding uncertainty, which jeopardizes transportation project planning and discourages private sector investment. This threatens to stifle local business investment and job creation in our city and nationwide.
This morning, Mayor de Blasio joined Senator Charles Schumer, Partnership for New York City President and CEO Kathryn Wylde, and NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg to ride the R train to City Hall.
As announced last month, Mayor de Blasio will also join mayors from around the country in Washington, DC to lobby Congress, the week of May 11th.
The coalition of leaders are encouraging people to take action by visiting www.standup4transportation.org to learn more and contact their local congressional representatives, and posting on social media using #StandUp4Transportation.
“Our transit, roads, and bridges are a lifeline for every New Yorker – and every American – connecting those who need it most to jobs, school, and economic mobility,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Yet years of flat funding means we continue to fall behind. This broad coalition of bipartisan mayors, business leaders, and many others is making clear: the status quo is unacceptable. Congress must truly invest in our future and pass a long-term bill that increases funding for our transit, roads, and bridges, and gives cities more control of the dollars.”
“Current funding levels are simply not nearly enough to ensure that our transportation systems are safe, efficient and reliable. We need a long-term transportation bill that increases investment in our nation’s infrastructure – passing a large long-term bill will not only create jobs, but also improve safety, and the environment. If Congress fails to act, it could likely delay hundreds of infrastructure projects across New York State and would have devastating consequences for our infrastructure, our economy, and for middle-class jobs,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “I’ll continue to push my colleagues in Congress to pass a bill that addresses these issues this year and I am proud to be joined by local leaders, organized labor, and business leaders in that effort.”
“It’s critical that Washington step up and not only fully fund the Highway Trust fund but also pass a comprehensive transportation funding bill with increased funding for our nation’s cities. Our nation has always been a leader in moving our citizens efficiently. However, without action in Washington, we risk falling behind our competition. I am proud to have a Mayor that understands this dire need and who has created such a large coalition to advocate for action,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Committee on Transportation.
“America’s urban centers produce 75 percent of the nation's economic output and absolutely depend on adequate federal funding for mass transit. The business community in New York is fully behind the efforts of Mayor de Blasio and Senator Schumer to secure the funds required to ensure that we maintain a world class transit system,” said Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO, Partnership for New York City.
John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance, said, "The federal government hasn't increased transit funding for years, and eight million daily subway and bus riders are feeling the effects. Subway delays are up almost 50% over the last year, due largely to outdated equipment that can't handle record ridership. We need a boost in federal transit funds, not another stopgap measure from Congress. We stand with Mayor de Blasio on Stand Up for Transportation Day to push for what New York needs: a long-term transportation bill that increases funds for our buses, subways and commuter rail."
Mayor de Blasio also published an op-ed in today’s amNY, urging Congress to act, which can be read below:
De Blasio: Congress, do the right thing by NYC
By Bill de Blasio April 8, 2015
New Yorkers are always on the move. But the infrastructure we move on -- our subways, buses, ferries, roads, and bridges -- is stalled in Washington gridlock.
Since 2009, the federal funding for the transportation we need to grow, compete and get home at night has remained at the same level. And the funding has come in spurts, including a dozen unreliable extensions, some as short as 30 days.
Funding for our transit, roads and bridges is set to expire on May 31. If Congress fails to increase the allocation and pass a long-term bill that gives cities control of the money, the future of our cities will be jeopardized.
That's why Thursday I'm joining a bipartisan group of 300 leaders spanning 150 cities – including some 60 mayors – to call on Congress to act now because all communities, large and small, are at risk.
We are making it clear that failure to invest in our subways, buses, roads and bridges is nothing less than failure to invest in our country's future.
In NYC each day, close to 6 million people ride our subways; 330 million tons of freight pass through our streets in the metro region; 600,000 passengers move through Penn Station; 65,000 people take the Staten Island Ferry. The NYC Department of Transportation manages about 6,000 miles of road, 789 bridges and a million street signs.
Our transportation system keeps this region connected. It serves as the connective tissue not just for NYC residents, but also for the countless others across New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and beyond who depend on our transit, roads and bridges to make their livelihoods. Congress' failure to invest could derail our regional economy. Transportation is equally vital to those who are most likely to fall behind in our economy. Those who most rely on affordable mass transit are seniors, students and hardworking families. Tackling our transportation needs means addressing income inequality and also creating work. Every $1 billion in federal transportation spending supports 13,000 local jobs.
As every commuter knows, if you are standing still, you are falling behind -- and in terms of maintaining and building our transportation infrastructure, we are standing still. Over the past six years, the cost of everything has gone up, our city's population has reached a record high of 8.49 million, our economic activity has increased 8% from 2010 levels. However, our ability to make long-term investments in our infrastructure has stalled. NYC isn't just looking for help from Washington. We are doing our part. Over the past decade, we have increased our capital commitments by 50%. We plan to double our annual spending over the next two years to $1.2 billion.
But without a strong federal partner, maintaining existing infrastructure and preparing for the future will be virtually impossible. We would have to delay existing projects, such as the Bruckner Expressway bridge, imperil new ones, like the Woodhaven Bus Rapid Transit line, and create short-term fixes that are more expensive and less efficient than long-term solutions.
Mayors, business leaders and many others are making clear that our subways, buses, roads and bridges should not be divisive issues. We're letting Congress know: We are stuck in a traffic jam that it created. All we need is some help to get us out of it.