CRT Board Member Elizabeth Giles published an Another Voice article in the Buffalo News about the importance of extending Buffalo’s light rail to the East Side and airport.
CRT President Doug Funke submitted an Another Voice essay to the Buffalo News, about the need of increases in rail transport to mitigate the effects of global climate change.
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:
The world is changing in ways that demand a bold new vision for mobility based on clean, reliable public transportation. The 20th century dream of a car in every driveway has become unsustainable. Our cities have been turned into parking lots, our “freeways” are clogged with stop-and-go traffic, our air is polluted with gases and particulates that cause cancer and asthma, and our climate – planet-wide – is changing in ways that increase the frequency of dangerous weather events and threaten our coastlines and economies. The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Erie County is not electrical energy generation or industry, but rather transportation (at 40%, primarily from cars). If we expect people to drive less, alternatives must be provided.
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.