NYS Thruway Authority Board Must Address TZB Task Force Recommendations

The NYS Thruway Authority was a key member of the Mass Transit Task Force, but the NYSTA Board is still yet to formally address the group’s recommendations.

On Thursday, the New York State Thruway Authority Board of Directors held its first meeting since the New NY Bridge Mass Transit Task Force issued its final [...]

TZB Transit Task Force Recommends New Modern, Faster Bus System in I-287 Corridor

The New NY Bridge Mass Transit Task Force (of which Tri-State is a member) issued its Final Transit Recommendations today. The 119-page report details transit improvements along the Tappan Zee Bridge/I-287 corridor in Rockland and Westchester Counties. The recommendations propose sleeker, new buses with WiFi technology; bus stops transformed from a patch of grass or pavement to a station with pre-board fare collection, seating, shelter, and real-time bus information; and new technology improvements that will give buses lead time at intersections and improve travel flow on I-287. With the implementation of these recommendations by Governor Cuomo and the New York State Thruway Authority, transit between these two counties can be transformed from an experience that is tolerated, to an experience that is preferred. And, the Hudson Valley will have secured a big win.

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Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget: $40 Million Taken from Transit, No Dedicated Pedestrian and Bicycling Safety Funding

Governor Cuomo's Executive Budget is a mixed-bag for transit and safe streets advocates. | Photo: Mike Groll/AP

Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget is a mixed-bag for transit and safe streets advocates. | Photo: Mike Groll/AP

Governor Andrew Cuomo released his 2014-2015 Executive Budget yesterday and a preliminary look suggests transit riders, pedestrians and bicyclists are seeing a lot more take than give.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority

While the budget increases MTA funding by $85 million, Governor Cuomo proposes to use $40 million in ”surplus” transit funds to pay off bonds issued by the State on behalf of the MTA. Until last year, these bonds were serviced with General Funds. In 2013, when Governor Cuomo swept $20 million in transit funds, the move was criticized by transit advocates as well as State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli as a diversion of funds. The use of “surplus” funds to service this debt is something the Governor plans to do every year, beginning in FY2016:

Metro Mass Transportation Operating Aid (MMTOA) Debt Service Offset: The budget proposes to offset General Fund support for the MTA debt service costs by utilizing $40 million in dedicated resources from the MMTOA account to the General Debt Service Fund, with $20 million in resources available for the same purpose on an annual basis beginning in FY 2016.

While the Governor’s budget includes $310 million from the State’s General Fund to the MTA to compensate for lost revenue resulting from the rollback of the payroll mobility tax (PMT) in December 2011, this flat amount (which has been included every year since 2012) could be actually shortchanging potential revenue. The New York State Department of Labor estimates that 218,300 jobs were created in the downstate MTA region from November 2011 to November 2013, which means that additional PMT revenue likely would have been generated from these additional jobs, in excess of the $310 million. This additional revenue may have been enough to offset the proposed four percent MTA fare increase in 2015.

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Elected Officials Should Be Improving Transit Service, Not Subsidizing Tolls

Last week, New York State Senator David Carlucci proposed a $250 state tax credit for toll-paying commuters in New York state.

 The state has the nation’s highest tolls and the costs can be “crushing,” Carlucci said. His plan would be the first of its kind in the state.

“If you look at someone’s overall costs of living in the Hudson Valley, for middle-class families a large portion of their income has to go to just getting to work,” Carlucci, D-New City, told The Journal News on Thursday. “We’ve got to work at lowering all of these costs.”

The Senator’s statement, however, does not seem to comport with the facts. According to a recent Thruway Authority report, tolls in the Hudson Valley and in upstate New York are actually quite low compared to what drivers pay on toll roads in other states:

More specifically with respect to Tappan Zee Bridge tolls, a commuter with EZPass pays $3 per day or $720 per year to commute to work. This is significantly lower than the tolls at the Port Authority Hudson River crossings and much lower than what transit commuters must pay, including those in Carlucci’s district:

Commuter Mode

Daily Cost

Yearly Cost

TZB EZPass Car

$3

$720

TAPPAN ZEExpress Bus (TZx)

$4.40

$1,056

Metro North (Spring Valley, Nanuet, Pearl River to Midtown)

$14.40

$3,456

Coach Bus (Palisades Mall pick-up to Midtown)

$15

$3,600

Metro North (Suffern, Sloatsburg to Midtown)

$17.56

$4,236

(Source: Tri-State Transportation Campaign)
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Even More Concerns About New TZB Financing

Less than two weeks after reports that the interest rate on TIFIA loans was up almost one percentage point over a six month period, the Associated Press reported over the weekend that, according to state documents and interviews, Governor Cuomo’s “plan to replace the aging Tappan Zee Bridge has quietly hit financial uncertainties that [...]

In a Time of Increased Borrowing Costs, an Increased Urgency for TZB BRT Planning and Implementation

With interest rates on the rise, does waiting on key transit capital improvements make fiscal sense? | Photo: Nyack News & Views

It’s been over a year since the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued its Record of Decision approving the new Tappan Zee Bridge environmental review process. It’s also been over a year [...]

San Francisco Leapfrogs New York Region on Cashless Tolls

Cashless, open-road electronic tolling on New Jersey’s Garden State Parkway. | Photo: New Jersey Monthly

Since 1999, TSTC has been pushing for the MTA, which operates seven bridges and two tunnels in New York City, to convert its congestion- and pollution-inducing toll booths to gateless, cashless, all-electronic, high-speed open-road tolls. In 2011, the MTA took a small step toward [...]

TSTC Statement on Federal Tappan Zee Bridge Loan Moving Forward

Tri-State: Lower Than Expected Loan for TZB Could Lead to Steeper Tolls

For immediate release: March 8, 2013 Contact: Veronica Vanterpool, 212-268-7474 or 917-957-9748

Statement of Tri-State Transportation Campaign Executive Director Veronica Vanterpool on the report of New York State’s federal loan application moving forward:

New York State’s taxpayers will be paying more money [...]

Is TZB TIFIA Financing Stuck in Neutral?

New York State officials have not yet submitted the formal application for a TIFIA loan, but they seem confident the Tappan Zee project will receive funding. | Photo: The Journal News

The unveiling of a financing plan for the Tappan Zee Bridge is becoming a classic chicken and egg scenario. New York State [...]

No Plan, No Problem: NYSTA Board Authorizes $500 Million in Borrowing for New TZB Construction

The proposed Tappan Zee Bridge still lacks a financing plan. (Source: Transportation Nation)

Last Thursday, the NYS Thruway Authority announced that it will be borrowing $500 million to pay for the initial construction phases of the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project. Unfortunately, the state still has not outlined a plan to pay back [...]