It is a sure thing that Gov. Andrew Cuomo will not hold a press conference to announce that as part of his proposed state budget, he will be reallocating $160 million dedicated for our public mass transit agencies into the state’s general fund. This includes the Metropolitan Transportation Authority receiving $145 million less than anticipated from Albany as part of the next April 1, 2021 – March 30, 2022 state budget. (Source: “Cuomo pushes $145M raid on funds dedicated to cash-strapped MTA,” NY Daily News, Feb. 12).
This means less state funding for New York City Transit bus, subway and Staten Island Railway, Metro North Rail Road, Long Island Rail Road, Nassau Inter County Express (NICE) Bus, Suffolk County Transit Bus, City of Long Beach Bus, Huntington Area Rapid Transit Bus and many other bus operators around the state. At the same time, MTA Chairman Pat Foye, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, Mayor Bill de Blasio and other elected officials are lobbying Washington for a third CARE COVID-19 bailout of $8 billion or more. The Federal Transit Administration already provided the MTA with a total of $8 billion under two previous CARE COVID19 bailouts. This is all on top of $1.4 billion in 2020 and $1.5 billion in 2021 under other formula and discretionary funding provided by the Federal Transit Administration to the MTA.
The receipt of federal funding was never meant to be used by Gov. Cuomo to back out previous committed state funding to the MTA as a means to balance his own budget. Will Sen. Schumer hold one of his Sunday news conferences to hold Cuomo accountable? Don’t bet on it, He is too busy with plans to run for another term in 2022! MTA Chairman Foye has no problems blaming Washington for his multibillion-dollar shortfalls. He will never publicly disagreed with his benefactor Cuomo, who appointed him to his position. Reduction in previously promised financial support from Albany by Cuomo is a box of Valentine’s Day candy already partially eaten to riders.
(Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office).