New York State County Highway Superintendents Association News & Views

Tuesday,  March 27, 2018

NYS Transit Industry News

RGRTA Needs Bigger Boost in State Funding

The subject of jobs is often a hot topic in all communities, from the need for more employment  to the necessity of a skilled labor force. With an overall poverty rate of 32.8 percent, Rochester desperately needs job opportunities for residents who are trying to claw their way out of poverty.

Yet an influx of jobs will do little to improve the lives of lower income families if the bread winners are unable to get to their place of employment on time, if at all. Studies show a strong relationship between transportation and upward mobility. 


Westchester County Releases Report on TNCs

The Westchester County Department of Public Works and Transportation recently completed a "Westchester County Bee-Line System First and Last Mile Mobility Study."

The report reviews several examples of how TNCs have been used by other transit agencies and municipalities throughout the country to address first and last mile challenges, and discusses the issues to consider if such a partnership were to be implemented in Westchester County. Examples include:

  • Replacement of Under-Utilized Fixed Route Bus Service
  • First-Mile/Last-Mile Connections to Commuter Rail Stations and Bus Stops
  • Off Peak Jobs Access
  • Market Expansion through Micro-Transit
  • Technology Platforms
  • Paratransit

The report recommends that Westchester County initiate a pilot program which would include eliminating one or more of the least efficient routes in the Bee-Line System, or providing a new service that increases mobility where there is an unmet demand.


State Government Affairs

Urgent Action Needed

As the state budget process moves toward completion, it is critical that we all continue to call for action on transit funding. Please call your state legislator as soon as possible to reinforce the need to act on greater transit investment for your community.

You should emphasize that there are revenues currently available to increase transit operating aid including the suggestions below.

Revenues Sources to Increase Transit Investment

Increasing operating assistance to upstate and suburban downstate transit systems is critical to ensuring the continued growth of New York State’s economy and providing equitable investment in these systems as is proposed for the MTA. Revenues are readily available to increase transit funding without raising taxes or using the state general fund. Following are two revenue sources available to increase transit funding:

  • Use Existing Balances in Transit Dedicated Trust Fund Accounts - There are existing, unused balances in several of the state’s dedicated trust funds that support transit that can be used to increase transit investment without diverting funding from any other state program.

    Revenue projections contained in the Executive Budget show that there are balances in the upstate operating assistance fund of $11 million and in the downstate operating assistance fund of $98 million. In addition, there is a balance of $15 million in the fund that is available for non-MTA transit systems.
  • Use of Bank Settlement Funds – The state continues to collect revenues from legal settlements with financial institutions including a new settlement announced on March 22 that will provide $41 m. in cash to NYS. Settlement revenues have previously been provided to the MTA and to the NYS Thruway Authority. Use of these new settlement proceeds can help increase non-MTA transit funding.

Increasing transit investment from these or other sources will allow transit systems to expand to meet the new demands for more service from business and the public, and to support continued economic and community growth.

If you have any questions, please contact Bob ZerrilloBob Reid or Padraic Bambrick.


Congress Set to Approve Substantial Hike in Dedicated Bus & Bus Facilities Capital Funding

As part of the sweeping Omnibus appropriations bill agreed to by leaders from both parties in the Senate and House of Representatives, dedicated capital investment for buses and bus facilities is set to increase by $400 million this year under the Transportation, Housing & Urban Development (THUD) component of the bill. The legislation – expected to be approved by Congress today and signed by President Trump to keep the federal government operating through September (FY 2018) – will also maintain growing funding levels established by the FAST Act for all other federal transit formula programs through the remainder of the federal fiscal year. In tandem, realizing increased capital for buses and bus facilities (which includes all non-rail transit vehicle types) and maintaining FAST Act levels in transit formula programs were the Community Transportation Association of America's top two legislative priorities for 2018.

Specifically for bus and bus facilities dedicated capital funds through the Section 5339 program, the Omnibus bill will direct more than $209 million to the formula portion of the program, with another $161 million funneled through 5339's competitive grant mechanism as well as more than $29 million to the Low- and No-Emissions vehicles portion, all totaling $400 million additional investment through Section 5339. Since the end of SAFETEA-LU-era funding levels in 2014, federal investment for buses and bus facilities has been nearly $1 billion short of what's needed to adequately maintain the bus industry's infrastructure replacement needs. The additional $400 million that will be made available this year to transit agencies is an important step in restoring dedicated capital funding for buses and bus facilities to its historic levels of federal support.

Around the Country

As Tech Matures, Transit Agency Usage of
Electric Buses Evolves

As sustainable practices continue to come  into focus for counties, cities, and municipalities around the nation, transit agencies are continuing to focus on the potential of adding electric buses to their fleets.

Despite the promises of zero-emissions and being good stewards to the communities they serve, many transit agencies are going down the road of electric buses at a relatively slow rate.

UTA Using K-9s to Protect Against Threats on Mass Transit 

With public safety concerns growing in the wake of numerous violent incidents around the nation, the Utah Transit Authority is maintaining vigilance on public transportation routes.

Explosions in Texas, along with recent shootings in Florida and Maryland have created higher senses of alert from law enforcement across the U.S. While Utah has avoided any large-scale incidents, local authorities are focusing energies on readiness and taking proactive steps to ensure preparedness on all modes of mass transit.

On Tuesday, UTA conducted training and safety demonstration sweeps with K-9 officers. UTA Police Sgt. Chad Ziengenhorn, with his German short-haired pointer Bobbie, and officer Tony Brereton, with springer spaniel Daisy, patrolled TRAX, FrontRunner and buses at the Salt Lake Central Station downtown.

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New York Public Transit
Association Headquarters

136 Everett Road
Albany, NY 12205
United States

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