The following is a republished press release from a community organization or member and NOT written by the Ithaca Voice … to submit community announcements to The Voice, contact us at msmith@ithacavoice.com.

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ITHACA, NY – TCAT is teaming up with transit agencies across the state to protest what was a last-minute amendment to a long-term highway bill, approved late Wed., Nov. 4 by the U.S. House of Representatives, that would gut millions of dollars in much needed federal transit funding.

Under the amendment, which was approved by a voice vote, the 5340 High Density States Program would be eliminated and adversely impact transit agencies all across New York State as well as those in six other states and the District of Columbia. TCAT would lose more than $200,000 a year in federal funding at a time when the agency is financially struggling to keep up with demand.

The New York Public Transit Association (NYPTA), the trade association representing TCAT and transit agencies across the state, began mobilizing immediately after the vote to advocate for the restoration of program by contacting federal lawmakers and expressing their concerns about cuts in funding ─ something they find particularly harsh when demand for transit is at an alltime high and transit dollars are hard to come by.

The elimination of the program would cut federal funding by as much as 24 percent in areas of New York State.

In Ithaca, TCAT would have its funding slashed by approximately $200,000 annually or 12 percent (from $1.8 million to $1.6 million.)

“The recently passed House Surface Transportation bill eliminates transit funding dedicated to states with high population-density, including New York, a change that will significantly impact transit systems across the state,” said NYPTA President Carm Basile and CEO of the Capital District Transit Agency (CDTA) in Albany. “A 20% or more cut in funding will force us to ask our riders to pay more for less service, and slow economic growth in our communities.”

Representatives from New York State transit agencies across the state and national transit advocates joined in NYPTA-led conference call Friday afternoon to address what some called a “devastating” turn of events. NYPTA plans to engage transit agencies in six other states impacted to include New Jersey, Connecticut,

Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Delaware, Maryland as well as the District of Columbia. According to the Post-Standard in Syracuse, House members representing rural states have long tried to redirect funding from the

High Density States program run by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Please see: http://www.syracuse.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/11/house_strips_820_million_from_ny_12m_from_centro_in_new_highway_bill.html

Opponents to the amendment expect to fight it by working with the Senate, which is slated to soon work on their version of the long-term highway bill.

TCAT Board Chairman Frank Proto, who has been advocating Tompkins County’s congressman, U.S. Rep. Tom Reed (R-23rd), for more transit funding, also expressed his disappointment.

“I am getting whiplash, the feds want us to provide affordable transportation for our respective constituencies, but they refuse to participate in the cost to provide that service,” said TCAT Board Chairman Frank Proto. “Talk about inconsistency.”

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at msmith@ithacavoice.com, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.