Congressional Republicans are taking a second look at a controversial transportation bill that, among one of its provisions, would reduce funding for mass transit throughout the U.S. Several Republicans, including Rep. Robert Turner (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) have said it would hurt their New York City constituents.
As proposed, the bill would be a severe blow to New York's public transportation system because it would cut an estimated $1.7 billion in guaranteed federal funds for capital projects. The proposed bill was slamed in Grand Central Station earlier this month by congressional Democrats and transit union representatives.
The funding for capital projects, like the Second Avenue subway line, purchase of new buses and trains and repair of subway stations was threatened. New York City's Metropolitan Transit Authority has a $12.6 billion operating budget and has budgeted roughly $4.5 billion annually in capital projects until 2014.
The vast majority of funding for these of projects comes from a federal fund generated by gasoline taxes. That fund, according to the bill, would be moved, supplanted by a $40 billion lump sum and placing $2.7 billion up of project funding available through general appropriations.
Transit representatives said the bill would take away all certainty that MTA could get the funding needed to complete its projects.
I am encouraged by reports that House Republicans are backing off their plans to dismantle transit funding. If these reports are true, I am pleased that our efforts to stop devastating transit cuts were successful, said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), an outspoken opponent.
Roughly 8.5 million people use the mass transit system in the region. The MTA is the nation's largest mass transit system.
Calls made to the Republican-controlled House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee were not returned.