Representatives from several local transportation groups will travel to the state Capitol Tuesday to lobby for increased funding to improve public transportation in the Rochester region and in Upstate New York.
Our Streets Transit Coalition will meet with state legislators in Albany and urge them to support budget items and legislation, including a 50 percent increase in state operating assistance for upstate transit systems over the next five years, as called for by the statewide New Yorkers for Better Public Transit campaign, beginning with a 10 percent increase in the 2019-20 state budget.
“Rochester needs a transit system that serves its citizens in a meaningful way,” said Reconnect Rochester’s Jason Partyka, chairman of its Bus Work Group. “When just getting back and forth to work takes two hours a day and an evening trip to Wegmans means another two hours, this is a real time burden on Rochester’s families.”
Our Streets Transit Coalition officials said they are encouraged that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has included a 5.3 percent increase in his budget, but said that creating “truly robust” public transportation systems requires a more transformational financial investment.
“We advocate for the growth of the public transit system as both a necessity for black, brown, working class and other marginalized communities in Rochester, and as a necessary step in building a sustainable, living-wage economy,” Metro Justice’s Aaron Michaeu said. “Rochester’s development should promote mass transit, pedestrian and cycle transport as a means of providing mobility for all while moving away from fossil-fuel dependency.”
In addition to funding, the coalition is calling for support of legislation that would require major transit authorities in New York State to have transit and paratransit rider representation on their boards, as well as legislation that would place a tax on carbon-based fuel emissions.
“In New York State, emissions from the transportation sector account for 34 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions,” said Heather O’Donnell of the Rochester People’s Climate Coalition’s transportation committee. “Creating a high-functioning, sustainable and equitable public transportation system is one of the most meaningful steps we can take towards mitigating climate change and improving air quality in our communities.”
Coalition members include Reconnect Rochester, Metro Justice, Rochester People’s Climate Coalition, Community Design Center of Rochester, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 282, Mothers Out Front, Rochester Cycling Alliance and Roc City Coalition.