MTA holds budget hearing in plea for more funding amid calls for expanded service

ByAnthony Carlo, Eyewitness News WABC logo
Thursday, March 9, 2023
MTA set to hold budget hearing in plea for more funding amid calls for expanded service
Anthony Carlo reports on the MTA's budget meeting from City Hall.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The MTA held a budget hearing to make its case to get more funding.

It comes after City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams called for an extension to the city's Fair Fares program.

But some question if the MTA can afford it.

On Thursday, riders rallied for more frequent buses and trains ahead of this budget hearing, and what they want is going to cost a pretty penny.

The funding they are calling for includes $300 million for more frequent public transit.

"The budget is incomplete without $300 million dollars for fast service riders can depend on every day," said Caitlin Pearce, Deputy Director of Riders Alliance.

City Council representatives joined the protest, urging leaders in Albany to build on Governor Kathy Hochul's MTA funding proposal.

"My son has to travel from Canarsie to the Bronx for school, and it took him every day about two hours. It's wrong," Councilwoman Mercedes Narcisse said.

It's one that has the city scrounging for money. This funding includes investing in more frequent trains and buses to build ridership, improve safety, deliver equity, and tackle climate change.

This all comes ahead of the City Council Transportation Committee's preliminary budget hearing, as state budget negotiations heat up.

MTA Chairman Janno Lieber said a couple of weeks ago that the MTA is in a big hole - $2.5 billion - and the impact could hit riders hard without a bailout.

"If we don't get what we want out of Albany - what we need - very quickly, we have to start moving on the ugly fronts we don't want to be active on, which is major fare hikes, major service cuts, and layoffs," he said.

Before Transit Authority President Richard Davey headed in to testify before City Council, he joined protesters.

"Someone gives me more money to run more service, damn right we will," he said.

Davey said he appreciated the support Hochul has for transit in the state.

"Kudos to this governor," he said. "She has not made the debate about whether or not transit needs to be invested in. She said absolutely we need to invest in it."

Mayor Eric Adams has already said the city is going to have a tough time affording what the state is budgeting for transit.

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