Hochul promises Brooklyn-Queens light rail, other major transit initiatives, but omits concrete plan to save cash-strapped MTA | amNewYork

1/11/2023 12:27:00 AM

Governor Kathy Hochul used her State of the State address Tuesday to unveil a suite of policy proposals related to transit, including advancing the

Hochul used her State of the State address to unveil a suite of policy proposals related to transit, including advancing the Brooklyn-to-Queens Interborough Express light rail project — but stopped short of committing new, dedicated funding to the MTA.

Governor Kathy Hochul used her State of the State address Tuesday to unveil a suite of policy proposals related to transit, including advancing the

Brooklyn-to-Queens Interborough Express light rail project — but stopped short of committing new, dedicated funding to the cash-strapped MTA.overhauling controversial criminal justice reforms to battle rising crime , but it remains to be seen whether her Tuesday State of the State speech will satisfy critics on either side of the political aisle.will both deliver their State of the State addresses Tuesday.We rely on your support to make local news available to all Make your contribution now and help Gothamist thrive in 2023.

Marquee transit items in the governor’s 277-page State of the State book include allowing New York City to control its own speed limit, expanding the MTA’s $5 CityTicket for commuter rail trips in the city to all hours of the day, and enabling the state Department of Motor Vehicles to more easily take reckless drivers off the road.As part of her Housing Compact, the governor would require all municipalities with a train station to rezone areas within a half-mile radius of the stop, aiming to spur transit-oriented development and soothe the state’s housing crisis.The Democratic governor has suggested she might expand the number of criminal offenses that qualify for cash bail after deflecting calls to do that last year by arguing it was too soon to judge the tweaks to bail reform passed in the state budget last April.The governor also expects federal regulators to finally sign off on the state’s congestion pricing plan early this year.at the Assembly Chambers in Albany.And a year after first announcing the Interborough Express proposal , Hochul said that she and the MTA would pursue building light rail on the underutilized freight rail tracks between Brooklyn and Queens that would count as the biggest expansion of New York’s mass transit in decades.Some Democrats have joined Republicans in recent months to urge Hochul to take action to address their public safety concerns after months of waiting before and after the November election against Republican Lee Zeldin, who campaigned heavily on overhauling the bail reforms.“Moving forward with Light Rail for the Interborough Express means better access to jobs, education and economic opportunities for some 900,000 New Yorkers in Queens and Brooklyn,” said MTA Chair Janno Lieber in a statement.m.

“I want to thank Governor Hochul for her leadership on this exciting project and look forward to working with stakeholders and local communities to move the proposed project forward.Kathy Hochul could propose legislators change in coming months.m.” In a press release, the governor’s office said the light rail option was chosen because its rolling stock can use the existing railroad’s smaller right of way, unlike subway or commuter rail trains which require larger tracks.They also say it’s the most cost-efficient option for the corridor, though with a still-high total cost of around $5.“At what number will the body count be enough to prompt action?” he added.5 billion, and further argue it’s the fastest option for the most people, with fast acceleration, short dwell times, and capacity for up to 360 people per train.Governor Hochul delivers her 2023 State of the State address.Prosecutors have also lamented reforms that give them less time to turn over evidence to criminal defendants as part of an effort to keep people from languishing at places like Rikers Island for months or years on end.In the coming weeks, New Yorkers will learn how Hochul intends to pay for everything; her state budget proposal is due by Feb.

Darren McGee/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul But the glaring omission from Hochul’s speech to lawmakers was a plan to rescue the financially-challenged MTA , which is set to raise fares and cut expenses this year as post-COVID ridership stagnates and federal aid runs dry.Transit honchos have warned for months that the agency is heading over a “fiscal cliff,” and last month passed a budget that, even after cutting costs and raising fares, still requires billions of dollars over the next few years to balance its budget and pay the bills; the authority has repeatedly stated that new, dedicated streams of revenue are needed from city, state, and federal purses.Hochul argued throughout the second half of 2022 that January would be the time to review controversial limits on cash bail.Hochul paid lip service to the MTA’s plight in her speech, deeming it “the lifeblood of the New York City metro region” and vaguely indicating plans to “invest in and ensure its long-term fiscal health.” In the State of the State book, Hochul went further in assuring straphangers that “long-term fiscal stability is essential to ensuring that New Yorkers can continue to rely on a world-class transportation system.And any proposals she includes in her State of the State address will have to go through the left-leaning Democratic supermajorities in the state Senate and Assembly where progressives will likely resist any efforts to change progressive reforms they championed in recent years.” Last month, the governor and Mayor Eric Adams made new sources of funding for the MTA a plank of their “ New New York ” program.The governor outlined some steps to get there in a joint report with Mayor Eric Adams, which focuses on easing the and lifting the rules that cap the size of new residential development.

But specifics for how to get there were lacking, except that Hochul and other leaders will figure out the specifics later.Hochul is expected to make affordable housing a key part of her 2023 legislative agenda.“Governor Hochul is committed to working with MTA leadership, legislative partners, the City of New York, the federal government, and other critical stakeholders on a comprehensive set of solutions to the structural challenges facing the MTA in order to put the Authority on sound fiscal footing for many years to come,” reads the book.Despite the vagaries, Lieber said in a statement he appreciates the governor’s “vital” support in finding new revenues.The governor has yet to give details on how she will get 800,000 new housing units constructed over the next ten years while teasing State of the State proposals that she will finally unveil Tuesday ahead of a state budget process concluding in April that traditionally serves as a forum for governors and legislators to hash out important policy matters.“I very much appreciate Governor Hochul’s statement that the MTA is the lifeblood of the New York City region that’s got to be funded and supported to provide great service,” said the chair.“What the MTA is facing is a fiscal crisis, brought on by the COVID pandemic, which cut ridership by a third and caused a multi-billion dollar hit.“We need Democrats to not just talk about these issues, but to actually push forward solutions to these issues.Supporters of the tax break say it is necessary to fuel new housing development.

Reliable mass transit is key for millions of people for access to housing, jobs, education and healthcare and having the governor’s support is vital.” The state budget is due April 1, and elsewhere in her speech, Hochul pledged not to raise income taxes this year.Share this article:.That rankled progressive lawmakers, who have proposed increasing taxes on New York’s wealthiest earners to, among other things, plug the MTA’s deficit and improve service.“In her silence on addressing the MTA’s operating deficit, Governor Hochul leaves the possibility of fare hikes and service cuts on the table,” Queens Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani, the lead sponsor of the “Fix the MTA” package.“This will be the reality if she refuses to invest even the bare minimum in the MTA.Towns typically ban so-called “ accessory dwelling units ” and reduce legal housing stock by preventing homeowners from renting out their basements, top floors and garages to tenants.

” MTA spokespersons did not return an inquiry for comment by press time.Without a plan for fiscal health put forward, advocates took the opportunity to demand bold action.“Securing the future of the MTA — and the city and state that rely on it — demands a bold, positive vision from New York’s governor, who controls the system.Funding for more frequent subway and bus service in the governor’s upcoming executive budget will be essential to providing a sound fiscal footing for public transit,” said Betsy Plum of the Riders Alliance, which has been promoting a 6-minute subway service proposal.“Transit riders from across the Bronx to central Brooklyn to Southeast Queens elected the governor last fall, turning out to put her over the top in a tight race,” Plum continued.Public opinion polls continue to show public safety remains at the forefront of voters’ minds.

“We’re going to fight for the shorter waits and faster trips we need and deserve and we won’t let up until Albany delivers the money to make it happen.” About the Author.

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