Transit advocates slammed local and federal politicians Tuesday for repeatedly slashing funding for the region’s mass transit system and called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a law that would make it harder for the state to do it again.
“You’re not gonna cut taxes on the richest folks in New York State and take it out on New York City’s working families,” said Transport Workers Union President John Samuelsen in a protest on the steps of City Hall. He added that taking money away from the MTA has led to service cuts and layoffs.
Amid chants of “sign the bill,” the local politicians, union representatives and transportation advocates repeated their demand for Cuomo to sign a “transit lockbox” bill that passed the Senate and Assembly in June that would make it harder for money promised to the MTA to be taken away. They also decried federal officials’ intentions to cut transit funding by 35 percent.
Since 2009, $260 million that had been earmarked for the cash-strapped transit agency never made it into its coffers. The largest-ever service cuts that cut two subway lines and several bus routes followed last summer, along with a fare hike in 2011 and others planned in 2013, 2015 and 2017.
The bill has not been sent to Cuomo’s desk for a signature yet, officials said, and his office did not return calls for comment on when it would be delivered or if he’d sign it. The bill’s sponsors did not have any information on its status.
Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign said signing the bill was the least Cuomo could do, saying the MTA was “already hurting.”
“Not to pass this kind of law makes the funding much less stable,” Russianoff said.
Follow reporter Marc Beja on Twitter: @marc_beja