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Bridge Tolls

Huge Coalition Lines Up Behind Ravitch’s MTA Rescue Plan

The Daily News published an op-ed today that highlights the broad coalition of labor unions, business interests, good government groups, transportation advocates and neighborhood activists who want Albany to adopt the Ravitch Commission's MTA rescue plan.

Yesterday the coalition sent this letter [PDF] to every member of the state legislature. Notably, three of the state's biggest unions -- the AFL-CIO, Service Employees International, and United Federation of Teachers -- have signed on. These labor groups were not part of the coalition that fought for congestion pricing last year, but on this issue, they are firmly on board. On this issue, they're united with the same business leaders whom they're fighting against when it comes to the proposed millionaire's tax. Unlike the State Senate, these leaders grasp the implications of sharply hiking fares while drastically cutting service. They don't want to risk the region's future by letting the transit system fall apart. They do want a plan that provides a long-term answer, and that includes bridge tolls. Here's their full letter:

Dear Legislator:

We represent the citizens of New York who depend upon a safe, clean and reliablepublic transportation system. We represent the working class New Yorkers -- many ofwhom do not own automobiles -- who depend upon an affordable public transportationsystem to get to their jobs, to their schools and to their health care providers. Werepresent the employers of the region that recognize that a well functioning subway, busand commuter rail network is the prerequisite for continued economic growth and iswhat sets New York apart from the rest of the country. We represent the hard-workingbuilding trades and construction workers responsible for New York’s skyline that aredependent upon public sector projects to put food on the table during these hard times.And we represent those that care about reducing the asthma rates of children indisproportionately impacted communities throughout the city and about making thiscity a whole lot greener, more equitable and a little bit more livable.

We represent your constituents, and we are calling on you to act and adopt acomprehensive, long term funding plan for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.It must be a plan that provides for affordable fares, expanded service and long termcapital investment. And it must be adopted now -- before the Authority is forced to raisefares and tolls by as much as 30 percent, while at the same time drastically reducingservice across the system.

The New York Legislature has had long enough to act. This issue is no surprise to thosethat have been paying attention. Almost a year ago, Governor Paterson called onRichard Ravitch to head a Commission to review options for comprehensivelyaddressing the MTA’s operating and capital funding needs. This Commissionrepresented business, labor, environmental advocates and everyday straphangers. Andthe proposal that the Commission put forward has the broad-based support of all ofthese constituencies -- your constituencies. It is a proposal that is fair, balanced andcomprehensive. It relies on transit riders, motorists and the employers that benefit fromthe system to all participate in the solution for saving the system.

Once again, we are calling for bipartisan action to respond to the needs of New Yorkersand prevent a backsliding into the kind of neglect and disinvestment in ourtransportation system that marked earlier decades and nearly crippled New York. Withfunding for the MTA in place, we can move on to confront the other innumerablechallenges that our state faces in this time.

We stand united in our commitment to working with you and your colleagues towardsa solution to this crisis. We respectfully request a meeting with you in the coming days.

Sincerely,

Denis Hughes President New York State AFL-CIO

Gary LaBarbera President Building & Construction Trades Council

Mike Fishman President 32BJ, Service Employees International Union

Randi Weingarten President United Federation of Teachers

Kathryn Wylde President & CEO Partnership for New York City

Richard T. Anderson President New York Building Congress

William C. Rudin Chairman Association for a Better New York

Dick Dadey Executive Director Citizens Union

Nancy Ploeger President Manhattan Chamber of Commerce

Gene Russianoff Senior Attorney Straphangers Campaign

Kevin Corbett Co-Chair Empire State Transportation Alliance

Kate Slevin Executive Director Tri-State Transportation Campaign

David Jones President & CEO Community Service Society of New York

Pratt Center for Community Development

Fifth Avenue Committee

The POINT CDC

Erasmus Neighborhood Federation

Morningside Heights/West HarlemSanitation Coalition

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