Few, if any, would disagree with the proposition that New York City and the surrounding towns, villages, and counties constitute the heart of the national and global economy. Fewer seem to recognize or appreciate, however, that our robust transit system is the lifeblood that sustains that heart. We, the executive board of the Long Island City Alliance, a civic group advocating for issues affecting western Queens, were dismayed to hear that the majority Republicans in the state Senate have proposed to zero out the MTA’s capital funding in the upcoming budget. In particular, Sen. John DeFrancisco was quoted as saying that the MTA’s problems were none of his, saying that “we don’t have too many MTA trains going to Syracuse.”
The Senate majority’s claim that this potentially crippling blow to the region’s transit system will “control spending and create jobs” is laughable at best. The MTA is currently working on two major projects, East Side Access and the Second Avenue Subway, that will greatly improve connectivity and commute times within the metropolitan area. Both projects would likely be shut down if the Senate majority’s proposal passes, wasting tens of millions of taxpayer dollars invested in building a better, more-connected city. This will also have the effect of terminating the thousands of construction and support jobs currently active on both projects. Finally, while no “MTA trains” go to Syracuse, plenty of MTA dollars do, as our buses and trains are built by people from Syracuse, Plattsburgh, Hornell, and dozens of other upstate towns and cities. What will Sen. DeFrancisco’s own Liverpool constituents, some of whom are engaged in making bus sealant and tape, say when their own representative jeopardizes their livelihoods?
We at the Long Island City Alliance urge the state Senate to reconsider this misguided and counterproductive decision and restore the MTA’s capital funding to the budget.