N.Y.’s Transit System Could Receive $10 Billion in Infrastructure Deal
New York City’s transit system will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill worked out in the Senate this week, Sen. Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, said Thursday.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates New York’s subway, bus and commuter-rail networks, stands to receive at least $10.7 billion in federal funding through the bill, Mr. Schumer said.
Funding for public transit would also go toward advancing several other major projects in the New York metropolitan area, Mr. Schumer said, including the Gateway plan to build rail tunnels under the Hudson River, completion of the Second Avenue subway in Manhattan and rehabilitation of the rail tunnels under the East River.
“New York has not seen such a federal infusion of infrastructure dollars,” Mr. Schumer said in an interview. He said the deal offers investments that will “rebuild and revive” the state’s infrastructure.
But some Republicans on Capitol Hill questioned whether the sums Mr. Schumer sought for transit were necessary. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas asked if he intended to gild the subway tracks.
“It’s not to gold-plate it,” Mr. Schumer said. “It’s to advance our infrastructure in the way that a growing city needs.”
The Senate voted on Wednesday night to take up the bill, a long-sought compromise that contains $550 billion in new federal money for roads, bridges, transit, rail, water and other physical infrastructure programs.
The measure still must clear both houses of Congress and faces some Democratic opposition in the House, where progressives thought it had been pared back too much.
It includes about $39 billion in new spending on transit, on top of almost $50 billion left over from a law known as the FAST Act that was signed in late 2015 by President Barack Obama, Mr. Schumer said. The M.T.A.’s share of the distribution — nearly $11 billion — would be a combined total from those two funding sources, Mr. Schumer said.
New York will also be a focal point of much of Amtrak’s plan to modernize the Northeast Corridor, which connects Washington to Boston. The bill includes $58 billion for rail projects, most of which would go to Amtrak.
Amtrak owns the corridor as well as Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan and the crumbling, 110-year-old tunnels under the Hudson that are the only way for trains to travel between New York City and New Jersey. The $30 billion Gateway plan includes the rehabilitation of the old two-track tunnel and construction of another one, as well as extensive improvements on both sides of the Hudson.
The bill includes $24 billion of federal-state partnership grants, which could include Gateway. Mr. Schumer said there was enough money in the bill to get Gateway, the extension of Second Avenue subway in Manhattan and some other projects “going in a very robust way.”
Stephen Sigmund, a spokesman for the bistate Gateway Development Commission, said, “This infrastructure package is good for the Gateway Program and good for the nation. Multiple billions in new federal money available for the kinds of projects in the Gateway Program is both very positive and expands the whole pie for infrastructure.”
The projects the bill would fund would create thousands of construction jobs and help to fuel the economic recovery of the region and the nation, transportation industry officials said.
“This bill includes the largest-ever federal investment in public transit and the largest federal investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak 50 years ago,” said John Samuelsen, president of the Transport Workers Union. “Critical funding from this bill will be used to repair, maintain and expand these vital modes of transportation, creating thousands of new union jobs in the transportation industry.”
Mr. Schumer said that $20 billion of the transit funds in the bill would be a new allocation, at least $1.3 billion of which would go to the M.T.A. Of the remaining total of about $70 billion in transit funding, the M.T.A. would get more than $9 billion, he said. An M.T.A. spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
That money would be on top of the $14.5 billion in federal pandemic relief the M.T.A. is receiving. After getting $8 billion in federal aid last year and an additional $6.5 billion this year, the M.T.A. postponed a fare increase that was scheduled for 2021 and resumed its capital-spending plan.
The New Jersey governor, Philip D. Murphy, also hailed the bill, which he said in a statement included “unprecedented investments in mass transit, roads, bridges, clean energy, and broadband, while creating thousands of good-paying jobs.”
New Jersey Transit, which operates a statewide network of buses and trains, received $1.4 billion in federal aid through the CARES Act last year. The agency has used that money to offset the steep decline in revenue caused by the drop in ridership since the pandemic began early last year. A spokeswoman for NJTransit said the agency was still awaiting official notice of what it might receive from the infrastructure bill.
Officials from New York and New Jersey have been sparring over how to share the emergency funds the federal government allocated to their transit agencies. New Jersey officials have argued for using a traditional breakdown, but the New York side has argued that the M.T.A. should get a bigger-than-usual share because it has suffered more.
“New York’s view of its own troubles is outrageous and shows a lack of awareness of the significant hardship experienced by neighboring states,” 12 members of Congress from New Jersey wrote in a July 22 letter to Nuria Fernandez, the administrator of the Federal Transit Administration.
This article originally appeared on New York Times