The NYSTEA Rider Representation campaign seeks to have at least two “rider-representatives” appointed to the governing board’s of the five largest public transportation authorities in NY State. A “rider-representative” is a person that meets the FTA criteria of being transit-dependent, and would hold a position with voting power on their respective Board of Directors.
The NYSTEA coalition believes that the appointment of rider-representatives can support the implementation of equitable transit policies in terms of transit service, capital investments, public outreach, and other methods by which transit agencies serve their constituents, especially those dependent on transit.
To learn more about the Rider Representation campaign view the fact sheets below and visit this page.
PDF versions can be downloaded here.
1. New York State Rider Representation Overview
2. Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) – NYC/Downstate region
To see more click here.
3. Capital District Transit Authority (CDTA) – Albany region
To see more about the CDTA click here.
4. Centro (CNYRTA) – Syracuse region
5. Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) – Buffalo region
6. Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority (RGRTA) – Rochester region
Fact sheets can be downloaded here in PDF format.
In September of 2014, the NYSTEA coalition submitted a letter to the Mayor of NYC, Bill de Blasio, urging him to include as part of his four recommendations submitted to Governor Cuomo, two rider-representatives for appointment to the MTA Board. The letter was endorsed by over 25 local organizations and 30 city councillors.
To learn more about the Rider Representation campaign click here.
To read the letter and see who has endorsed it view the images below and visit this page.
The following post was originally published on 1/22/2014, by Ryan Lynch of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign
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.
Non-MTA Transit Systems
Upstate transit systems will receive a total of $175.9 million from the budget, an increase of only $2.3 million over last year’s allocation. In addition, according to the budget, non-MTA downstate transit systems like Nassau Inter-County Express, Westchester Bee Line and Suffolk County Transit, will be sharing an increase of only $5.6 million. As a point of comparison, last year, NICE bus alone received $5.1 million in additional state support for transit operations.
New York State Department of Transportation
The Executive Budget provides $3.4 billion to cover the second year of NYSDOT’s two year capital program. The budget allocates $155 million in funding for the New York Works program that will accelerate future projects into 2014-2015. The budget does maintain Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) and Marchiselli program funding at $477.8 million. These programs are key sources of funding for local public works departments for projects like repaving and maintenance of roadways. Unfortunately for pedestrian and cycling advocates, the Governor did not consider an ask for $20 million in annual dedicated pedestrian and cycling funding that advocates have called for in recent weeks. While the Transportation Enhancements Program, which helps pay for municipal pedestrian and bike projects, received a more than 50 percent increase from the Governor last week, this one time increase does not sustain the growing demand for these projects as an annual appropriation would.
New York State Thruway Authority
For another year, taxpayer funds will be used to offset the New York State Thruway Authority’s truck toll hike proposal that was dropped from consideration in December 2012. The State will continue to pay the costs of NYSTA State Trooper obligations out of the General Fund, keeping $86 million in NYSTA’s budget, and negating the need for a commercial toll increase.
As most are aware, the MTA is considering raising fares again for the 4th time in 5 years. This time around, equity should be a primary concern. Everyone is impacted when fares skyrocket, but some communities are usually hit harder than others. The last fare hike saw inequitable impacts, when low-income communities and communities of color were pushed to use more single-rides and weekly passes, as the $104 monthly MetroCard became unaffordable for many families.
In order to help prevent such disparities, transit providers are regulated under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin by agencies that receive federal money. Additionally the Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justice, protects low-income people and people of color from inequitable shares of environmental benefits and burdens in federal programs.
Transportation projects have historically come under investigation for violations of civil rights. From the siting of diesel bus depots in communities of color, to the diversion of funding for buses that serve predominantly people of color to build rail projects, to the exclusion of minority communities from access to stations on a new light rail project, public transportation continues to need monitoring to prevent discrimination.
Title VI distinguishes between two types of discrimination: intentional discrimination and disparate impact. Intentional discrimination occurs when a policy or action by an agency is explicitly designed to disadvantage or privilege people based on race, color, or national origin. Disparate impact discrimination is a policy or action that on the surface is racially neutral, yet results in a discriminatory outcome.
In the fall of 2011, the Federal Transit Administration set out to provide revised guidance documents for Title VI and Environmental Justice. When the public hearings did not include New York State – the state that accounts for around one third of all transit trips in the country – NYSTEA secured a meeting with FTA officials to hear from New York. NYSTEA then submitted its own comments to the docket for further consideration.
The FTA has now released the circulars. There are many important changes to prevent discrimination. Here are some specific recommendations from NYSTEA that made it in to the final Circular:
- Consider non-transportation sources of pollution when siting facilities – Requires analysis at census tract or census block level of surrounding similar facilities when siting transportation facilities, in order to help prevent the accumulation of disparate environmental and health benefits and burdens for communities.
- Mitigate disparate impacts from service and fare changes – When a disparate impact is identified, transit providers are required try to “avoid, minimize, and/or mitigate” the impacts.
- LEP guidance – The final Circular provides additional guidance for engaging stake holders with Limited English Proficiency, suggesting use of visual aides, videos, and accessible language for people who do not speak English or are not literate.
- Disparate impact analyses for DOTs and MPOs – State DOTs and MPOs are now required to analyze their distribution of state and federal funds for disparate impacts.
- Ridership surveys – Requires surveys of ridership to be completed by December 31, 2013, with information on race, color national origin, English proficiency, languages spoken at home, household income, and travel patterns. While Census measures can tell us who lives along a transit line, only ridership surveys can tell us who actually rides transit.
- Transparency and accountability for boards – Transit boards must formally approve the Title VI program, major service change and disparate impact policies and analyses, and acknowledge results of service standards and monitoring.
- Consultation with EJ communities – Transit authorities should reach out to EJ communities and organizations in order to help create inclusive strategies to minimize impacts to vulnerable populations.
Another important change:
- Develop “Major Service Change” threshold with public - Transit providers must now engage the public in the decision-making process for setting the threshold that triggers a disparate impact analysis for a major service change.
NYSTEA commends the FTA for setting out on this process to strengthen civil rights protections in transportation. These new provisions create helpful new tools to ensure that transit service is provided equitably for all.
We are already seeing the effects of NYSTEA’s advocacy as the new circulars playing out. In the MTA’s public comment period, it has already reached out to Environmental Justice and other Social Justice community organizations in the MTA service area to weigh in on the fare hike proposals. Meaningful engagement over the short and long term with communities, organizations, and riders are crucial for achieving transportation equity.