Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Transportation Committee Chair David Gantt and Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee Chair James F. Brennan today announced the Assembly's SFY 2015-16 Budget includes a $224 million increase in transportation funding above the Executive's budget, providing an additional $70 million for transportation capital projects and $154 million in transit aid.
"The Assembly budget acknowledges the significant role our transportation infrastructure and mass transit systems play in the daily lives of our constituents across the state," said Carl Heastie. "The additional funding we provide, above the Executive's budget, for transportation capital projects and mass transit is done to ensure that the state's roads, highways, bridges and mass transit systems are reliable, efficient and safe."
"I am very pleased that the Assembly budget provides more funding to municipalities, who have struggled with the winter weather and their limited financial resources, to keep streets safe and accessible," said Gantt. "Our budget also takes steps to strengthen the state's transit systems by providing more state transit aid, and it convenes a board to find ways to restore their financial stability so the transit services they provide are available to communities throughout the state for many decades to come."
Transit System Funding
The Assembly's SFY 2015-16 Budget provides a $25 million increase over the Executive for upstate transit systems, which have experienced many years of flat state assistance. It also creates a board to develop a plan that will ensure that these transit authorities have a revenue stream they can depend on to fund their operations. In addition, transit systems throughout the state will benefit from transit capital funding, which was increased to $10 million from $5 million.
The Assembly also includes a $100 million funding appropriation for a Bus Rapid Transit and Transportation Alternatives Program. This statewide program aims to reduce travel times and increase transportation options for the public and includes projects in Staten Island, The Bronx and Brooklyn.
Severe Winter Weather's Impact on Local Transportation Infrastructure
Heastie and Gantt noted that this winter's brutal weather conditions compel the state to help localities, including New York City, repair and refurbish their transportation infrastructure which was severely damaged by the record snowfall and low temperatures. As a result, the Assembly provides $60 million more in capital funding than the Executive for extreme weather recovery, $20 million in additional funding from the previous year, which will be available through the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPs).
Assembly Protects Dedicated MTA Revenue
With the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (MTA) ridership reaching its highest levels in decades, the Assembly budget rejects the proposal to sweep $20 million of dedicated tax revenue from the Metropolitan Mass Transportation Operating Assistance (MMOTA) account. The Assembly is directing the MMTOA revenue to be preserved so it can continue to be a source of funding for the MTA's operations.
"It is imperative that these funds remain with the MTA. Any diversion or disruption of this funding stream would be detrimental to the MTA's finances and operational abilities," said Brennan. "I am very pleased with the Assembly's position."
Tappan Zee Bridge Project Disclosure Requirements
To ensure transparency and accountability in the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project, the Assembly budget calls for a spending plan and report of all bank settlement funds that are appropriated to the NYS Thruway Authority, and it requires that a detailed financial plan for the construction of the bridge project be publicly disclosed.
Other additional transportation capital and transit appropriations in the Assembly's SFY 2015-16 Budget include: $5 million to ensure the continuation of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge Rebate Program; $3 million through the New York Works to upgrade LIRR equipment to comply with higher emissions standards; and $1 million for an accessibility and capacity study of the Kingsbridge Road / Jerome Avenue Subway Station in the Bronx.