Hillary Clinton Introduces Senate Version of Transit Relief Bill

hillary.jpgTransit operators struggling to keep pace with demand as rising fuel costs strain their budgets received some welcome news on Friday. New York’s junior senator has introduced a version of the Saving Energy Through Public Transportation Act. The bill, which would provide $1.7 billion for local transit agencies over the next two years (including $237 million for New York City), passed the House in June but lacked a Senate sponsor until now.

If the bill makes it through the Senate, the Oval Office figures to be a major hurdle. President Bush has signaled his reluctance to subsidize operating costs for transit, although that philosophy seems not to apply when it comes to subsidizing the habits of America’s motorists.

Meanwhile, in places like Louisville and the Denver suburbs, the prospect of service cuts and fare hikes continues to loom at precisely the moment that more people are depending on transit to get around.

  • kudos hillary

    although i still want to see that money used wisely
    i dont trust anyone associated with the MTA – labor or mgmt

  • Yay Hillary! I’m starting to forgive you for all that gas tax nonsense…. *starting*…

  • Finally some leadership on urban issues to justify all the work that people in NYC have done on her behalf!

  • “President Bush has signaled his reluctance to subsidize operating costs for transit, although that philosophy seems not to apply when it comes to subsidizing the habits of America’s motorists.”

    I think it did apply, philosophically, but they only got as far in implementing it as the congestion pricing grants. If only Bush had fixated on de-subsidizing automobile infrastructure instead of invading Iraq, he could have accomplished something positive for America. But making driving more directly expensive in his first term, instead of disastrously invading a foreign land at a massive human cost, would probably have prevented his reelection. And later, oil would still have gone up in price, though less steeply, and he would have been regarded as wise for helping wean us off early. Oh well!

  • The reason the Bush administration opted for oil war over transportation reform was succinctly summed up by VP Cheney when he said, “The American way of life is not negotiable.” This was Cheney’s response to a comprehensive survey of the energy outlook which included input from prominent peak-oilers. It’s also probably an indirect response to President Carter being voted out of office after daring to discuss the energy crisis with the electorate. Reagan said we could drill our way out of it (sound familiar?) and won in a landslide, setting the stage for a dozen years of Republican domination of the White House. I doubt anyone in either the Republican or Democratic parties has forgotten this. Doing what’s best for the American people is deemed political suicide.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Really Oscar, you “dont trust anyone associated with the MTA – labor or mgmt”. No one? Really? Is this polemic or do you mean that? And if you don’t, how do you ever get on a train? What particularly is your basis for this complete and total distrust? Is it really that universally untrustworthy?

    Could it be that you have let some, however important, failures of the authority in the past cloud your view of what is, overall, excellent service at a fair price? Have you priced the services of comparable mass transit systems in other big cities, London, Paris, Tokyo and looked at those systems overall means of financial support?

  • “Have you priced the services of comparable mass transit systems in other big cities, London, Paris, Tokyo and looked at those systems overall means of financial support?”

    To be fair, the system in Paris is pretty affordable (a single fare is the equivalent of $2.48 but if you buy a ten-ticket booklet it’s $1.77, flat fare anywhere in the system like here), but like almost every city’s train system (as far as I know, it’s just NYC and Berlin, though if anyone knows of others I’d like to find out) it’s not open all night.

    I agree with your general point, still, that we here in NYC get pretty good service for what we pay, I’m just pointing out that Paris isn’t up there with London in terms of an example of a transit system that can be really expensive to use.

  • I should also add that there are no free train-bus in Paris.

  • Ack. That is to say, no free train-bus TRANSFERS in Paris.

  • Ian Turner

    Josh,

    You also have to look at the amount of state funding, which IIRC is much higher (as a percentage of farebox revenues) for the Paris Metro.

  • Larry Hanley

    This issues is HOW do we keep this and other systems running at a time when they are suffering from higher expenses and a disappearing tax base? The ONLY way during the crisis is emergency federal funding. Let’s get this rolling throughout the country. Save mass transit so that it can save America!

  • There are no free train-bus transfers using single-ride tickets, but the monthly and weekly passes are valid for both, as well as the tramways and the RER (in whatever zones you’ve purchased them for).

    Zones 1 and 2 (basically the limits of the metro) combined are also significantly smaller than the area covered by the NYC subway.

  • To clarify, I was talking about Paris in my comment above.

  • Oscar, vis a vis your comment #1, I agree that the MTA has many deficiencies. But I think its biggest problem is that it is a state agency that the state does not want to fund.

  • Whoa, Oscar, there’s no need to attack Niccolo like that; he’s just asking you to explain why you have such little confidence in the MTA and is challenging you (respectfully) to look at the bigger picture.

    What I admire most about Streetsblog is that it is, hands down, the blog I read with the most intelligent and articulate reader comments. I continually enjoy reading the lively and reasoned debates that flourish in this forum; I learn a great deal from them, and appreciate that everyone can speak their mind and disagree with others’ opinions without fear of being attacked and insulted. Please don’t poison the well.

  • NewboldPhilly

    “but like almost every city’s train system (as far as I know, it’s just NYC and Berlin, though if anyone knows of others I’d like to find out) it’s not open all night.”

    A lot of cities have 24 transit service. It’s just that the overnight ridership is too low to justify the cost of running trains, so they substitute buses along the routes.

    In all of the Americas, outside of NYC/Jersey City/Newark, the only 24-hour rail lines are:

    In Chicago the Red and Blue El lines run all night.

    In Philadelphia the Green Line (subway/surface trolleys) and the Red Line (subway to NJ) also run all night.

    That’s it.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

U.S. Senate Getting Serious About Transit Stimulus

|
The Wall Street Journal reports that momentum is building in the Senate for additional federal transit funding: The Senate banking committee will hold a hearing Tuesday to examine how the government can strengthen mass-transit options as a way to reduce dependence on imported oil. Meanwhile, House and Senate leaders debating a new energy bill are […]

Transit Lockbox Passes Senate Unanimously, Needs Final Push In Assembly

|
This afternoon, the transit lockbox bill passed the State Senate, where it was sponsored by Brooklyn Republican Marty Golden, and according to the Senate’s twitter feed, the vote was unanimous. The legislation, which would bar the governor from raiding transit funds while raising the political cost of legislative raids through a series of disclosure requirements, […]