The Tax Reform and Fairness Commission report attempts to provide revenue neutral policy options for legislators to consider, while a separate proposal from state Republicans calls for further erosion of the payroll mobility tax. | Image: governor.ny.gov
With the State election season already on the horizon, transit riders should be wary of the upcoming budget session. Very wary.
Governor Cuomo has put tax reform on the 2014 budget agenda, and now, the proposals are coming in fast and furiously. With downstate transit systems funded by a panoply of taxes, both large and small, the threat to these funding sources, from both Republicans and Democrats, is very real.
Last week, Governor Cuomo’s Tax Reform and Fairness Commission released a report that attempts to provide revenue neutral policy options for legislators to consider. However, soon on its heels came a proposal from state Republicans that didn’t share in the revenue-neutrality ethos, and one that was quick to call for a further erosion of the payroll mobility tax, which provides $1.2 billion in crucial funding revenues for the MTA. Now, this week, a second tax commission report, headed by former Governor George Pataki, is expected to release its findings. Governor Pataki’s charge from Governor Cuomo is to find between $2 and $3 billion to cut from taxpayer’s bills.
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In New York State, more than 50 local communities have passed Complete Streets policies and laws, and in many instances the next question on their agenda is, “Now what?”
This December, Tri-State Transportation Campaign is partnering with the New York Academy of Medicine to deliver a two-part webinar on Complete Streets implementation. These webinars will be open to all audiences who are interested in learning about steps to take after a Complete Streets policy is in place. Representatives from municipal agencies and community-based organizations, transportation professionals, planners and all others interested in learning more about implementation of Complete Streets projects are encouraged to participate. The webinars are free, but you must register here.
Moving into Action: Planning and Implementing Complete Streets Projects – December 11, 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Panelists: Nadine Lemmon, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Christopher Eastman, NYS Department of State, Jamie Konkoski, North Country Healthy Heart Network
This first webinar will support participants in thinking about aspects of planning and implementing Complete Streets policies and projects. Issues covered will include:
- Getting everyone to the table
- Understanding the decision process for transportation projects
- Culture wars, liability, costs? Identifying and overcoming your community’s concerns
- New tools for planning and implementation
- Challenges in a rural community
- Complete Streets and the revised State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) forms
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Livingston Bridge Walkway. | Photo: Parks & Trails New York
You’ve heard of the pedestrian bridge in Poughkeepsie, but did you know that New York’s Capital District has its own “Walkway over the Hudson?” Well, it used to anyway. Tri-State’s ally for a more sustainable transportation network, Parks & Trails New York, is working to make sure [...]
On Tuesday, New York voters will decide who will be representing them in a number of local races, including races for offices in county legislatures and for county executive offices across the state.
This year, ten organizations who work in the Hudson Valley and Long Island teamed up to create a survey to find out about the candidates’ positions on a number of pressing issues facing Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester and Rockland Counties in the downstate region. Questions addressed issues relating to health and welfare, housing, jobs, the environment and infrastructure.
Every candidate in the races for county legislature and county executive in the four counties were invited to respond. Their unedited responses, available below, provide voters with a unique opportunity to evaluate where the candidates stand on the crucial issues that will impact the region for years to come.
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Vehicles have been colliding with pedestrians and bicyclists at an alarming rate in upstate New York. According to data from the New York State Department of Transportation Accident Files, there have been 11,803 collisions in five of the most populous upstate counties (Albany, Erie, Monroe, Onondaga and Westchester) in the last four years, which amounts to about eight people struck by vehicles each day.
So it comes as no surprise that in 2012, New York received the dubious distinction of ranking number one in the nation with the highest percentage of traffic fatalities for pedestrians and bicyclists: 27 percent of the people who died on New York’s roads were walking or biking to their destinations.
Although New York has the highest percentage of pedestrian and cyclist deaths nation-wide, NYSDOT is planning to cut spending on infrastructure and amenities that improve safety for walking and biking by 40 percent over the next four years. | Image: WIVB.com
What is surprising is that despite these alarming numbers — and the fact that the State’s Complete Streets law went into effect in 2012 – the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) is planning to spend less on infrastructure and amenities that improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists.
According to Tri-State’s analysis of NYSDOT’s “2013 Draft Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP)”, the blueprint for transportation funding in the state, New York will be spending 40 percent less of its overall transportation dollars in the next four years on measures, such as sidewalks, crosswalks, bicycle lanes or pedestrian islands, that make it safer and more inviting for people to walk and bike. According to the draft 2014-2017 STIP, New York plans to spend only 0.98 percent of its transportation dollars, representing a reduction of more than $100 million across the state on pedestrian and bicycling safety projects, as compared to 2011-2014’s spending plan. For those larger road and bridge projects that contain some component of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, NYSDOT is also planning to spend 63 percent less of its overall transportation dollars than it did in the previous STIP.
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The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) recently issued a draft plan of transportation projects it will be tackling from 2014-2017. This draft Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) will encompass more than $32 billion in federal, state and local funds, and is the best “blueprint” for what the State’s transportation priorities will be in the near future. Unfortunately for pedestrians and bicyclists, who jointly represent 27 percent of the total fatalities on New York’s roads, it doesn’t look like they are high on NYSDOT’s priority list.
The core of the problem may lie with NYSDOT’s new “Preservation First” policy.
In the fall of 2012, NYSDOT issued a STIP guide document to the 13 Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) across the state to help guide their decisions on what projects will get built, and what projects will not. The document outlined what the agency called a “fundamental shift” in the philosophy and principles behind how New York State “develops, programs and funds transportation infrastructure.” Called the “primary focus” of four guiding principles, this new “Preservation First” policy emphasizes fixing existing transportation infrastructure before building new or expanded infrastructure. While Tri-State supports fix-it-first policies like Preservation First as the most efficient use of limited resources, a loophole in the policy appears to be preserving not just 1950s-era infrastructure, but also a 1950s-era mentality. In other words, cars first, with pedestrians and bicyclists fighting for scraps.
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Governor Cuomo recently signed legislation that strengthens penalties on drivers who text while driving. TSTC urges the Governor to sign the speed camera bill, another piece of legislation that will make streets safer. | Photo: Queens Chronicle
New York City streets around 20 schools may get a key safety measure in a few [...]
State of New York Statewide Capital Plan | Image: New York Works Task Force
The transportation sector is far and away the largest component of the NY Works Task Force Statewide Capital Plan, anticipating $113.42 billion in spending on transportation over 10 years — 65 percent of the total $174 billion. The plan, considered the first-ever long-term capital plan for the state of New York, proposes capital expenditures that cover the needs of 47 state agencies and authorities.
The plan’s transportation investments are categorized as either “state of good repair,” “capacity optimization” or “transformational initiatives,” with the vast majority of transportation dollars proposed to be spent on state of good repair (78.6 percent or $89.17 billion), though “state of good repair” is not substantially defined beyond stating that it is the “maintenance of existing infrastructure.”
Some transportation highlights include:
The MTA plans to spend $56 billion in the next ten years. But the Statewide Capital Plan fails to identify funding sources for roughly $28 billion of that spending between 2016-2023.
NYSDOT’s new strategy of “preservation first” talks about investing in “infrastructure with the right treatment, at the right time in the life of the investment, and in a location that considers the overall travel system.” Unfortunately, the plan anticipates a decreasing chunk of federal dollars to support the system, going from $1.609 billion in FY2014 to $1.225 billion in FY 2023, a decrease that is compensated in the plan by an increase in “pay-as-you-go” state funds.
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Texting behind the wheel is dangerous, but Governor Cuomo must address the real danger: speeding. | Photos: Politics on the Hudson, Road Safety Ink
On May 31, Governor Cuomo issued tougher penalties for those who text while driving and directed police to ramp up enforcement across the state. Meanwhile, the Governor has remained silent on [...]
Cycle track along Prospect Park West. | Photo: Brooklyn Paper
In a shock to no sustainable transportation advocate anywhere, a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health shows that the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the go-to resource for transportation engineering guidelines, holds antiquated views on bicycling facilities.