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A message from CRT President Doug Funke

We are in uncharted waters with regard to COVID-19 virus; we don’t know how bad it will get or how wide and long its devastation will reach. We hope it will be put under control soon and pray that your friends and families are spared the worst from this illness.

Our transit systems, nation-wide, are also in uncharted waters. With the statewide orders for non-essential workers to stay at or work from home, the closing of schools and businesses, and the need for maintaining maximum social distance, transit systems are being hurt badly. Ridership is down between 40% and 90% in transit systems across the US (e.g., NYC ridership is down 67%, Bay area transit down 87%, Seattle down 45%).

The NFTA is experiencing similar ridership decreases. These losses are made worse when other taxes that support transit (e.g., the Erie County sales and mortgage recording taxes) also take a financial hit due to the virus. The $2.2T Federal CARES act just passed and signed into law by President Trump includes $25B for transit systems. This will help.

We are very pleased with the actions taken by the NFTA including:

  • Suspension of all transit fares. This allows passengers to enter through rear doors and avoids touching of fare ticket machines, handling of fare cards, and queuing at bus pay stations.
  • Frequent sanitizing of heavily touched areas on buses, trains and in stations.
  • Maintenance of normal bus and train schedules to allow essential workers to get to and from work without added delays.
  • Operational actions determined in consultation with public health and medical experts.
  • Concerted efforts being made to keep the public informed about operational changes and recommended procedures via the NFTA website, Facebook and Twitter, and via local media (TV, radio, and print).

We encourage you to consult the NFTA website (https://www.nfta.com) for the latest up-to-date information. CRT will also be posting relevant articles and information on our website, Facebook and Twitter feeds.

We wish you and your families the best as we all navigate this
difficult virus.

- Doug Funke

CRT Statement on Proposal for Increased State Transit Operating Assistance

Statement by Citizens for Regional Transit President Doug Funke:

"As the President of Citizens for Regional Transit, I want to personally thank Assemblyman Sean Ryan and Assemblywoman Karen McMahon for their leadership and support for public transportation in Buffalo-Niagara, and specifically for their effort to increase state financial support for NFTA maintenance, operations and capital improvements. Without an increase in state transit operating assistance (STOA), which have not kept up with our cumulative maintenance needs for many years, our bus and rail system will continue to degrade, as will the public transportation service that we all depend on. Lack of adequate funding for public transportation invariably leads to more deferred maintenance and degraded service, and ultimately digs a deeper and deeper fiscal hole to dig out of. Further, an inability to keep up with system maintenance and needed capital investments, not only degrades transit service, it also jeopardizes our ability to qualify for the federal funds needed for critical projects like the Buffalo-Amherst extension. Leadership and support from Assemblyman Ryan and Assemblywoman McMahon are critical and greatly appreciated.

I also want to applaud Sean and Karen’s specific inclusion of financial support for the purchasing of zero-emission buses and associated charging equipment, as a part of their financial proposal. With 40% of green house gas generation in Erie County coming from the transportation sector, moving from car-based travel to public transportation is critical for meeting Erie County’s commitment to achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Accord. Transit provides significant reductions in greenhouse gas generation compared to personal cars. And by transitioning to non-polluting, zero-emission buses, the improvements are even more significant. We thank Assemblyman Ryan and Assemblywoman McMahon for their leadership and commitment to better public transportation in Buffalo-Niagara."

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