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Riders Alliance Urges NYS to Invest in Transit, Stop Fare Hikes, Run Buses, Trains Frequently

January 31, 2022 From Riders Alliance
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The Riders Alliance, New York’s grassroots organization of subway and bus riders, joined by members and allies including NYC Comptroller Brad Lander and other elected officials, rolled out its 2022 state budget agenda for renewed investment in the city’s public transit system. Bus and subway riders urged the governor and legislature to fund an agenda focusing on riders’ needs for affordable and frequent service and the potential of public transit investments to advance equity and fight climate change.

“Riders need Governor Hochul and the legislature to protect us from fare hikes and to run more buses and trains,” said Riders Alliance Lead Organizer Mayra Aldás-Deckert. “Stopping the fare hike for at least five years and delivering service every six minutes will make the city more equitable, fight climate change, and bring back riders to transit. Not only can New York afford to do this, we can’t afford not to make this investment in our future.”

The Riders Alliance, whose members have fought over the past decade to win major advances like Fair Fares, congestion pricing, and busways across the city, demanded Thursday that transit fares be frozen for at least five years and service run every six minutes on most subway and bus lines. Speaker urged the governor and legislature to fund these measures with roughly $500 million in new spending to improve access to jobs, education, and healthcare, combat climate change, and rebuild ridership lost to COVID-era lockdowns and workforce changes.

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In a series of speeches, Riders Alliance members, leaders, and allies described a transit system in need of major service improvements to retain and attract riders after a pandemic that decimated public transit. They cited recent announcements of a $6.4 billion state budget surplus and progress toward major projects at Penn Station and on Second Avenue, which could take decades to come to fruition, as proof of the state’s financial ability and need to deliver better service for all riders in the near term.

An F subway train rides along the elevator structure on McDonald Avenue south of Church Avenue.
Wikimedia photo by mtatrain

Speakers also noted that while transit safety is an important priority, better outreach and reduced homelessness alone will not shorten riders’ trips or cut time spent waiting at bus stops and on train platforms.

“New York’s transit system is a lifeline for millions of New Yorkers who depend on the subway and bus systems for their daily commutes. Yet, our transit system remains outdated, suffering from a number of infrastructure, safety, and accessibility issues.

“Public transportation is a critical part of life for working-class New Yorkers, but for decades the state has failed to invest in our system. Instead of being forced to pay ever-higher prices for worsening services, New Yorkers deserve an accessible, green, functional transportation system. I call on the Governor to invest in our public transportation system as part of a recovery that puts working people and the climate first,” said Assemblymember Phara Souffrant Forrest, D-Fort Greene/Crown Heights.

“If we are to bring our transit system into the 21st century, then we must ensure that our subways and buses are efficient, safe, and accessible— while remaining affordable for working New Yorkers. I urge Governor Hochul to heed the demands of the Riders Alliance, and prioritize New York’s transit system in the State Budget,” said State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, D-Bronx-New Rochelle.

“We must act now to adapt our transit systems to withstand floods, fires, and heat and invest in more frequent, accessible and affordable transit. These investments will provide green alternatives to driving and mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. Accessing public transportation can be especially challenging for individuals with disabilities who sometimes require special accommodations to meet their unique,” said Assemblymember Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale

The recently built elevator at the 86th Street station on the R line.
Eagle file photo

“As we continue to grapple with the pandemic, many sectors are re-imagining how they operate. Our system of public transportation should be no different. For years, public transit has been neglected, leading to infrequent and inaccessible service at an ever-increasing cost,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, D-Manhattan. “We must take this opportunity to improve our public transit system, ensuring that it is affordable and accessible to all.”

Other aspects of the Riders Alliance’s state budget platform reiterated strong support for the MTA’s Fast Forward plan to make the subway fully accessible to people with disabilities by 2034 and to fund upgrades by implementing congestion pricing in Manhattan’s central business district. Meeting that accessibility target, more than a generation after the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act, will require doubling the pace of accessibility upgrades to stations across the city. Congestion pricing, once scheduled to take effect one year ago, is now anticipated in mid 2023 following a long delay in federal administrative review of the plan the legislature authorized in 2019.

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