NYSTEA 2014 Policy Platform

 

I. Strengthen Public Transit
II. Build Safer Streets
III. Equitable Transit-Oriented Development
IV. Rider Representation
V. Jobs and Transit Manufacturing in NY State

 

I. Strengthen Public Transit

From Buffalo to Long Island, and from Albany and the North Country to New York City, transit systems are still struggling to keep up with the increased demand since the recession. Inadequate bus and train service can effectively cut off many low-income New Yorkers from the places they need to go. Given that 4 of the top 25 most segregated cities in the country regrettably are in our state, we urgently need to provide better transit service to help unite communities as they strive for their economic recovery.

This is an economic development issue as much as a quality of life issue. As the unemployment rate in New York hung at 8.7% in 2012, Black and Latino unemployment remain at 13.8% and 11.5% respectively. Meanwhile, suburban businesses in Long Island and Westchester are suffering from inadequate access to the labor pool. A recent report showed that businesses in New York City could access 58.1% of the region’s labor pool, while NY’s suburbs could only access 14.4%—a 43.7% difference, the biggest split in the country. The story is similar in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls region, which ranked 6th worst in the country: businesses could access 51.9% of the labor pool in the city, but only 18.6% in the suburbs. This means that businesses struggle to hire the people they need, while those who need jobs have trouble getting to them.
We ask you to:

  1. Stop the diversion: We encourage you to oppose the Governor’s proposed $40 million diversion of MTA dedicated funds to pay state obligations. This is money that could be used by the MTA to restore 2010 service cuts, or lessen the impact of proposed fare hikes.
  2. Fix the Funding Formula for Upstate: New York Public Transit Association has proposed a revenue neutral fix to the decades old funding formula that provides operating revenues for over 60 transit providers across the state. By swapping a portion of the state sales tax for the current petroleum business tax, the legislature can assure that revenue streams for upstate systems will be on steadier ground.
  3. Improve Suburban Transit: Increase operating revenues for downstate suburban bus systems. The proposed fix to the funding formula will not impact these systems, and the proposed 2% increase in operating revenues will not keep pace with escalating costs, and ridership.
  4. Find new funding sources. The MTA is facing a $10 billion+ gap in their next capital plan, and transit systems across the state need more predictable and dedicated funds to meet the needs of their customers. The time to start this conversation is now.

 

II. Build Safer Streets

Since passage of the NYS Complete Streets law in 2011, local communities across the state have cast their votes for safer more livable communities—to date, more than 60 villages, towns and cities, and 9 counties have passed their own complete street policies. Well-designed sidewalks, pedestrian plazas, and easy access to transit and bicycle infrastructure helps to bring people back to our downtowns and our communities. Unfortunately, capital funding for improving pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure has taken a substantial hit recently:

  1. The new federal transportation law, MAP-21, has created a “Transportation Alternatives” program that results in 30% fewer federal dollars dedicated to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
  2. And NYSDOT’s new “preservation first” policy categorically excludes new bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure from 80% of the dollars spent in the state—which we believe goes against the spirit, and letter, of the complete streets law.

Additionally, speeding cars are a clear impediment to safer streets. Pedestrians hit by vehicles travelling 40 mph are 3.5 times more likely to be killed than pedestrians struck by vehicles travelling at 30 mph. Improving infrastructure can significantly calm traffic, but lowering the speed limit or utilizing automated enforcement technologies can help. Unfortunately, local communities—whether in New York City or in the Adirondacks—do not have the home rule authority to set their own speed limits, or utilize safety technologies like speed cameras.
We ask you to:

  1. Dedicate $20 million for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure to help offset the 30% reduction in dedicated federal funds.
  2. Give Communities Home Rule Authority to Set their own Speed limits: Support the following legislation that provides New York City, and 852 smaller towns across the state, the right to lower their own speed limits: S1356/A6089 (Little/Russell) & S6496/ A8478 (O’Donnell/Dilan).
  3. Improve the Complete Streets Law: The 2011 Complete Streets law does not cover the vast majority of projects being undertaken in the state, Including resurfacing, maintenance and pavement recycling projects. Support the amendment to the law, to help fill in that gap: S6340/A8433 Kennedy/Ryan
  4. Support speed camera demonstration programs: Speed cameras deter drivers from going 10 mph+ over the speed limit because they provide consistent and predictable enforcement of the speed limit. Last year, a 20 camera pilot program was approved by the legislature for New York City, and now we encourage you to support the proposal to expand that program, and give Long Island the ability to use these technologies as well.

 

III. Equitable Transit-Oriented Development

In Long Island and Westchester there are over 244 train stations and many hundreds of bus stops used by hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. Upstate transit systems and stations are often underutilized due to past inefficient land use practices.
Each one of these stations or stops, is a future Equitable (Fair and Affordable) –Transit-Oriented Development (ETOD) opportunity.
ETOD is Community Building. Providing a meaningful number of affordable and affirmatively marketed units from the start can avoid displacement and address issues of gentrification. This is important as we build accessible, healthy communities given a history of residential segregation. ETOD can improve: transit-access, transit-finance, walking, biking, parking, housing, equity, home ownership/rental opportunities. ETOD can allow families to spend less on a car and gasoline and more at local retail and housing, as well as provide additional resources for education.
By adding appropriate and equitable density through the most efficient combination of investment and infrastructure spending, ETOD creates the type of housing that is being demanded by Baby Boomers, Gen Y and families. ETOD may prove to have adequate metrics to justify economic development funds through the current Regional Economic Development Council processes. ETOD can mean more permanent jobs in urban areas and on main streets. It creates high skill construction jobs and then later retail, service and possibly office employment.
We ask you to:

  1. Support Local Planning Regulatory Changes, including zoning for equitable housing and TOD, local compliance of complete streets policies, and new parking strategies.
  2. Encourage New York State Agency E-TOD support, such as endorsement by New York State Department of Transportation, and sample zoning codes for transit-oriented development
  3. Establish a new New York State-supported E-TOD effort via the Regional Economic Development Councils or through a New York Statewide E-TOD Program, which would include would focus on transit, water/sewer, and road infrastructure needs, in addition to subsidies for Equitable units

 

IV. Rider Representation

New York State holds the largest population of individuals dependent on public transit for their livelihoods. Yet, as important as public transit is for New Yorkers, they have very little influence and connection with the people that govern the system. Transit authorities have no voting seat for transit riders on their boards, and labor only recently garnered a non-voting seat. While the MTA does have a seat for a “regular mass transit user,” that seat has no voting power, arguably representing riders in name only. We ultimately are failing to faithfully discharge the duties of our public benefit corporations if the people who decide the future of transit systems typically do not have a direct stake in that system’s service.

Riders should have a seat at the table in the decision-making process in order to ensure accountability and efficiency. To reach this solution, NYSTEA supports legislation that would require at least two members of the transit authority board to be representatives of the transit dependent community. These representatives would create a voice for the riding public, and help transit systems better meet the needs of those who take the service daily.

We ask you to support legislation that includes:

  1. Statewide rider representation for the 5 major transit authority boards: MTA, CDTA, RGRTA, CENTRO, and NFTA
  2. Creation of at least 2 designated seats for transit-dependent riders, defined as: an individual who is limited to public transit as their primary mode of transportation due to age, income, or disability
  3. Voting power for rider board members

For more information about the Rider Representation campaign, click here.

 

V. Jobs and Transit Manufacturing in NY State

New York has the largest base of transit -oriented manufacturing companies in the country and significant potential to expand further its capacity. New York accounts for one third of all transit trips in the United States. With the right public policies and targeted investments of taxpayer dollars, thousands of sustainable good paying jobs for New Yorkers can be created in transit manufacturing, particularly for many of New York’s low-income communities. However, maximum benefit is hindered by a lack of transit funding and by procurement policies that do not give priority to companies that focus on job creation – particularly for disadvantaged individuals. In addition, we need workforce development programs that can provide pipelines into actual jobs. To advocate for funding and equitable procurement policies, we need to build a coalition of manufacturers and groups representing workforce development, environmental justice, labor, economic development, civil rights, and others that will advocate for sound job creation policies. We also need an organizing strategy that builds the capacity and power of low-income residents to contribute to these efforts and insure that new policies are inclusive. We can build a resilient region that creates jobs that support the transit that moves our communities.

Our goal is to:

  1. Develop a jobs and transit platform that includes a transit procurement policy that maximizes equitable job creation and includes a transit jobs workforce development pipeline.
  2. We ask you to support our actions to:
  3. Build a diverse and broad advocacy base consisting of organizations from environmental justice, transportation advocacy, good jobs manufacturers, workforce development, economic development, labor, civil rights, and economic think tanks.
  4. Develop a transit rolling stock procurement policy that gives preference to manufacturers that maximize job creation, particularly for disadvantaged workers.
  5. Cultivate relationships with MTA procurement with an eye toward encouraging them to utilize the US Employment Plan – LAANE, and to adapt this plan for the New York State political context.
  6. Create a dedicated funding stream for the development of a transit manufacturing workforce development pipeline. The proposed funding level will be determined based on conversation and analysis with economic policy and workforce development organizations.
  7. Educate legislative leaders about the role that transit manufacturing can plan in workforce development.
  8. Organize workers and key constituents in political districts containing vulnerable communities.
  9. And to develop research reports on transit manufacturing and jobs in New York State.

Federal Goals
Transit OperationsReprioritize Spending
Civil Rights
Bike & Ped
Green Jobs

State Goals
Transit Rider Representation
State Transit Funding