Public Transit advocates testified before both state Senate and Assembly members during a hearing on Friday in Syracuse where they stressed the importance of long-term, sustainable transit funding that benefits all transit riders throughout the state. Testimony was heard by the state Senate’s Standing Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions and the Standing Committee on Transportation, as well as the state Assembly Standing Committee on Transportation.

The hearing was held to explore the effectiveness of the statewide transit system as legislators continue to negotiate with Governor Andrew Cuomo on a budget for 2019 ahead of the April 1 deadline.

“The transit industry is currently going through a period of transformation that has brought about some disruptive change. With a slew of new technologies and mobility options, customers – from millennials and seniors, to the employees of 24/7 businesses – want more choices, more flexibility and more customized solutions, and they want it now. We are unable to be responsive to those needs with the existing resources we have. So, we are calling on the state legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo to provide a long-term and sustainable funding solution in the budget that allows us to answer the wants and needs of our customers,” said Bill Carpenter, president of the New York Public Transit Association and Chief Executive Officer of the Regional Transit Service (RTS) in Rochester.

The New York State Public Transit Association (NYPTA) has been consistent in its requests for what it wants in the state budget. It has asked for a 50 percent increase in public transit funding over five years, including a 10 percent increase in 2019.

The association has also wanted to see revenue from the non-New York City portion of any statewide internet sales tax and any other statewide revenue source be used to increase investment in transit throughout the state.

It should also coincide with an expansion of the supplemental surcharge on car rentals, something the governor proposed in his executive budget, and a $1 per ride fee on Transportation Network Companies outside of the Manhattan congestion zone.

“We appreciate both the state Senate and Assembly Committees listening to our testimonies about the importance of a properly funded transit system not just for downstate riders, but for customers throughout the entire state. Transit is a vital part of the everyday life of millions of New Yorkers. It’s only appropriate we provide a high-level of funding in this year’s budget to support that,” said Rick Lee, Chief Executive Officer of the Central New York Regional Transportation Authority.

"Public transportation is vital to accessing jobs, education and healthcare in smaller upstate cities like Binghamton and in more rural areas of our county. Sustained investment is needed to expand bus services that communities demand and deserve, so our region can grow. I would like to thank Chairmen Kennedy, Comrie and Magnarelli for their leadership and for holding this important hearing on upstate transit needs," said Broome County Public Transportation Commissioner Greg Kilmer.