ITHACA, NY – New York Senator Charles Schumer announced on Tuesday that a major public transportation fund that was slated to be cut was not only saved, but increased.

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According to a press release from Schumer’s office, the 5340 High Density States program provides approximately $100 million annually to transit companies across New York state. A transportation bill passed through the house would have eliminated this funding completely.

Related: US House bill threatens $200,000 funding cut to TCAT

Schumer led the fight to see this funding restored, according to the release. He went one step further, securing an additional $18.5 million to be added to the fund over the next six years.

“Our regional transit agencies have been lifelines for our communities and major drivers the New York State economy for a generation. This deal will ensure they can continue humming as that collective economic engine for Upstate New York in the years to come,” Schumer said.

This is welcome news for TCAT, which has been facing substantial financial challenges. Most recently, they were only awarded half of the funding they had hoped for from the City of Ithaca, Tompkins County, and Cornell University.

Related: Ithaca raises TCAT funding, but far short of bus org.’s request

“This is terrific news and we are extremely grateful to Sen. Chuck Schumer for doing exactly what he said he would do and that is ‘fight tooth and nail’ to not only restore, but now also to increase this important funding for TCAT and other transit agencies in high density states,” said TCAT Acting General Manager Alice Eccleston.

“Our agency has been long struggling to keep up with demand, a difficult task particularly when we have an aging fleet and lack of funding to replace buses and to pay for much needed capital projects,” she added.

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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.