NY’s Congressional Candidates on Federal Transportation Equity

(Click to view survey answers.)

The long-term authorization of the Federal Transportation Bill has been hanging in limbo since September 2009. But there have been recent indications that President Obama would like it to be high on Congress’ list of things to do next year. The New York State Transportation Equity Alliance recently asked congressional candidates, from across NY State to respond to the following question, which is part of a longer survey:

What are your top legislative priorities for the federal transportation bill that specifically address environmental justice and civil rights?

Here are the responses:

Long Island

Timothy Bishop (D-1st)

One of my top priorities for the Surface Transportation Authorization Act is to decrease the nation’s reliance on automobile travel and increase funding for transit improvements and operations. I am also involved with increasing opportunities for non-vehicular local transportation improvements and smart growth policies.

Howard Kudler (D-3rd)

Making sure that Americans will arrive safely and efficiently at their destinations.

Carolyn McCarthy (D-4th)

The federal transportation bill should ensure the funding is distributed equally and fairly. This includes more funding for our rails, buses and other forms of mass transit.

New York City

Kenneth Reynolds (R-7th)

A transportation bill that addresses civil rights and “environmental justice”? That’s too-loaded a question for me. Sorry.

Jerrold Nadler (D-8th)

I support transportation projects and policies that reduce environmental pollution in low-income and minority communities, such as the Cross Harbor Rail Tunnel that will remove over 1 million tractor-trailers off NYC roads, and that primarily traverse the GW Bridge causing high asthma rates in the Bronx and Upper Manhattan.

Diana Muniz (R-10th)

As the climate changes in our environment, so does the population increases, there is a bigger need to expand in tecnology. We need to stop servcice cuts and keep cost down, since the goverment has not given a pay increase in many years.

Yvette Clarke (D-11th)

1. Create jobs, especially green jobs. 2. Focus on public transportation needs as much as highway expansion. 3. Greater transparency and public participation in the transportation planning of communities.

Michael McMahon (D-13th)

I believe that the federal government needs to make a significant increase in our support for mass transit.

Michel Faulkner (R-15th)

My top legislative priority is to return disenfranchised unemployed Americans back to work. When more people are working, the federal government has more money to use to protect and maintain America’s transportation systems.

Click to see responses from the Hudson Valley, Capitol Region, and Western New York…

CT on the Issues Update: Rep. Joe Courtney

Rep. Courtney.

In addition to answers from Connecticut’s gubernatorial candidates, TSTC’s CT on the Issues website now includes answers to a policy questionnaire from Rep. Joe Courtney of the 2nd House District in eastern Connecticut. In order to better inform the public on Congressional candidates’ views on the transportation issues facing CT residents, TSTC sent the questionnaire to […]

NY Candidates Paint Transpo Plans With Broad Brush

New York’s gubernatorial campaign has been full of sound and fury, with GOP candidate Carl Paladino facing off against Democrat Andrew Cuomo in a clash of personalities that sometimes leaves little room for the issues. When it comes to transportation, both candidates offer broad plans with few specifics.

Target: MTA

Republican candidate Carl Paladino rode the NYC subway during a recent visit.

Both Cuomo and Paladino have said the MTA should be more directly controlled by the governor, and both have raised varying levels of concern about the payroll tax which funds transit in the region.

At this month’s gubernatorial debate at Hofstra University, Paladino said “the MTA is a poster child for waste, fraud, incompetence, patronage, no-show contracts, absolute mismanagement.” He said, “I will get rid of that payroll tax immediately.  I will then completely audit that division and take it under the governor’s office for a five-year period, and force it to be restructured so that it is responsive to the people.” He also describes his plan for gubernatorial control on his website.

At the debate, Cuomo said, “In some ways the MTA is just a gross symbol of the problem that a lot of these state agencies and authorities have. Number one, it wastes a tremendous amount of money.  And number two, nobody’s in charge.” He continued, “Put the governor in charge. If it doesn’t work, it should be up to the governor and everybody should know about it.”

On the payroll tax, Cuomo told the NY Observer this month that “you have to revisit the payroll tax,” a sentiment he’s expressed before.

(For his part, MTA Chairman Jay Walder has defended his record, saying his cost-cutting steps have resulted in $500 million in recurring annual savings. “I hope to stay and I expect to stay,” he recently told the NY Times.)

Tolls and Transportation Funding

Democratic candidate Andrew Cuomo has been speaking about the state's infrastructure needs.

NYC congestion pricing came up during a conversation on transportation funding last week, with Cuomo telling reporters that “Congestion pricing was proposed. It was discussed.  It was basically rejected by the legislature. I don’t know that there’s been any change in opinion. I think it’s moot. I understand the concept. I understand that it was rejected. I don’t think it would pass if it came up again, unless something changed.”

Cuomo’s “New York Works” economic development plan includes  one chapter focusing on “restoring New York to infrastructure leadership.” The plan diagnoses the need to rebuild the state’s infrastructure and its financial challenges — including the state’s overreliance on debt, the need to finance the unfunded Tappan Zee Bridge replacement and other projects, and deteriorating bridges across the state.

The plan suggests that a Cuomo administration would make greater use of public-private partnerships, explaining that a proposed infrastructure bank would  “attract private capital by allowing certain contracting structures (such as Design-Build-Finance-Maintain) that would not otherwise be allowed under current State law.”

Paladino has called for the elimination of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge toll, saying in a press conference that he would “correct this unfair tolling system that penalizes people who have no opportunity to use the mass transit alternatives provided by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.” A NY Times profile of the candidate reveals he has challenged tolls before. In 2005, he successfully sued the State Thruway Authority to remove a 75-cent toll on motorists entering Buffalo via the Thruway.

Bike and Pedestrian Policies

The candidates disagree when it comes to a statewide complete streets policy, according to AARP’s 2010 Voters Guide. The Guide asked whether candidates would support complete streets legislation “which takes into consideration all users including motorists, bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities, when designing and operating roadways.” Cuomo supports such legislation; Paladino opposes it.

» Continue reading…

Cross-Hudson Bus Service a Worthy Landing Spot for ARC Funding

The morning bus lane into the Lincoln Tunnel is one of the most efficient pieces of transit infrastructure in the country. But the region needs more bus capacity — especially after the cancellation of ARC.

Yesterday Governor Christie announced the end of the ARC Tunnel, which would have doubled train service across the […]

For Christie, Fiscal Responsibility Only Applies to Transit Projects

Last year, then-Gov. Jon Corzine broke ground on the widening of the NJ Turnpike, a project whose cost has increased over the years.

Yesterday, Governor Christie reiterated that his decision to kill the Access to the Region’s Core tunnel was about lack of funding, telling outlets across the state that the decision “was […]

Access to the Region’s Core Officially Canceled

Gov. Christie has officially canceled the Access to the Region’s Core rail tunnel between NYC and New Jersey, condemning commuters to the status quo of frequently delayed and unreliable train service, setting back efforts to relieve the Hudson River rail bottleneck by at least a generation, and forfeiting $6 billion in federal New Starts […]

$121M More in Federal Support for New Haven-Springfield Line

An Amtrak train at Meriden station in Connecticut. Meriden would see improved intercity service and commuter service as part of the New Haven-Springfield rail project.

Connecticut will receive $121 million in federal high-speed rail funding for the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail project, putting the state within striking distance of its “near-term vision” for the project […]

“Whither Enhancements?” NY Localities Ask

Transportation Enhancements money was used for part of NYC's Ninth Avenue complete streets redesign.

Local governments in New York are still waiting for the state to distribute tens of millions of dollars from the federal Transportation Enhancements (TE) program, which is primarily used for bicycle and pedestrian projects. The last round of grants […]

Westchester Candidates Reveal Divergent Views on MTA

Picture 1

Left to right: Sen. Stewart-Cousins, McLaughlin

Westchester County has three NYS senate seats, all currently held by Democrats, up for grabs: the 35th, 37th and 40th district seats. As noted by Brian Nickerson, Dean of Iona College’s Arts and Science, which has recently started election polling in Westchester: “When you consider that Democrats currently maintain […]

Breaking: NJ Assembly Says Agency Documents Show No Evidence of ARC Cost Overruns

[Update: The Associated Press is reporting that federal estimates for the tunnel’s potential overruns are $1 billion, considerably lower than the $2-5 billion overrun figure cited by Gov. Christie.]

NJ State Assembly Transportation Chair John Wisniewski said today that a review of NJ Transit documents, received after filing an Open Public Records Act request, […]