Updated: Mass transit funding for N.Y. restored in transportation funding bill

Dec 1, 2015

Updated at 11:50 a.m. Tuesday 

According to federal lawmakers, mass transit funding for northeast states has been restored in the transportation funding bill. More than $94 million was earmarked for New York in 2014 for mass transit services, under the High Density States program. Centro in the Syracuse-area received more than $2 million. That funding was cut from the House version of the transportation bill. But U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Tuesday that not only was the funding restored, and additional $18.5 million over the next 5 years.

In a statement, Schumer said "This is great news for Upstate and Downstate NY and a major victory for our regional transit agencies – because it means we have protected millions in critical transportation funding our agencies were set to receive over the next six years."

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In Syracuse Monday, Sen. Charles Schumer said lawmakers from New York and neighboring states are working hard to keep the Northeast’s mass transit funding in the transportation bill. Centro would lose $2 million dollars a year for six years if House and Senate negotiators can’t come up with legislation that would keep extra mass transit money flowing to states in the Northeast.

Centro Executive Director Frank Kobliski said most of that funding would pay for new buses that cost almost a half a million dollars a piece.
 

The House of Representatives bill currently under consideration in Congress could cut Centro's funding by $12 million over the next six years.
Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

“Typically a bus lasts 12 years and, quite honestly, after 12 years they’re pretty tired and those frames are pretty rusty," Kobliski said. "So, we’re still trying to make that budget plan whole and if you took away another $2 million a year of the next six years, that would be enormously challenging for us.”

Yet, Centro is optimistic that negotiators will come through with a transportation bill that keeps funding for mass transit in the Northeast intact. 

"Our fingers are crossed, certainly in terms of keeping our fleet whole and keeping it replenished in a timely and safe manner," Kobliski said. "That’s critical.”

Syracuse-area Rep. John Katko, who along with Schumer is on the House-Senate conference committee, said progress has been made. A final transportation spending bill is expected by the end of the week.