What If a Rep From NYC Chaired the Assembly Transpo Committee?

As the Ravitch Commission’s first public hearing on how to fix the MTA’s budget woes gets underway, this paragraph from today’s Times story on the Rochester Regional Transit Service (annual budget: $62 million) bears mentioning:

Just four years ago, the Rochester authority was in financial straits
and facing large deficits. Since then, it has lobbied successfully for
increases in state aid, receiving $32.8 million this year, up from $16
million four years ago. It helps that a local assemblyman, David F.
Gantt, is chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee.

With more than half of its budget covered by the state, the RTS now runs surpluses consistently and, seemingly alone among local transit agencies, just cut its base fare. Meanwhile, David Gantt won’t even let New York City put enforcement cameras on buses.

How does state aid to the MTA measure up to what the RTS receives? Comparing Rochester’s transit budget to the MTA’s is not exactly apples to apples, but this graphic from a recent Independent Budget Office report [PDF] gives a sense of Albany’s direct contribution:


  • ms nomer

    Just don’t let it be the Assembly Brooklyn delegation leader Joseph Lentol, who’s remained firmly on the sidelines regarding transit funding, and is afraid to promote any legislation or policy that seems to diss cars.

  • I blame Streetsblog for making me so impulsive about sharing my opinions. Immediately after reading this post, I wrote the following to my Assembly Member:

    “Is there anything you or your colleagues can do about this idea? It could be very beneficial to the people of NYC, and also to the environment itself (the entire earth’s environment, cause that’s how car pollution rolls) (and therefore the rest of NYS) if the Transportation Committee Chair was from NYC.

    As far as an NYC Assembly Member deserving the Chair: fear not, upstate communities, we in NYC have highways too. We in NYC actually do have a lot of the same needs that the rest of the State has, so it’s not like NYS highways will suddenly disappear. It’s just that here in NYC, our good-for-the-whole-world very high ratio of non-driver transit deserves more help from NYS than it currently gets. Check out the Streetsblog story below and see what you think of getting Gantt replaced as Chair.”

  • Check that: I should have said “credit” Streetsblog, not “blame!”

  • Boris

    This is nothing less than a scandal. Just imagine if the MTA got half of its funding from state subsidies! Just imagine if Wall Street firms had to pay the MTA to get its workers in and out of their offices at the same rate Rochester schools pay for their students. It would be the best public transit system in the world!

    One of the problems is that NYC is represented in the state assembly as a group of towns, rather than one (proportionally more powerful) unit. And since our different representatives prefer local interests to larger goals (case in point: Silver), nothing gets done to further the interests of all transit riders.

  • GR in SF

    Worth noting that RGRTA is I believe overseen by appointees of the County Exec., who is, to put it lightly, not a Gantt ally. Additionally, much like the MTA, the Board is weighted to the burbs. I’d be interested to know that those cuts actually are, and what the books actually say, etc. The likelihood of innovative urban policy from these people is just too minute for this not to smell. They’ve spent the past 50 years destroying the city of Rochester – it would be odd for them to change course.


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