Assemblyman John Ceretto and State Sen. George Maziarz, both Republicans, joined the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority at the Capitol Monday to highlight what the called an unfair distribution of transportation funding in the executive budget.
In Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget proposal, the NFTA receives a $605,000 funding increase, which Ceretto and Maziarz called paltry. They said the Federal Transit Administration is on record stating state support for the NFTA's transit system must be significantly increased to put it on the same level as other upstate transit systems.
"Many residents of Niagara Falls rely on public transportation as a means to get to work and provide for their families. As public officials, it is our job to deliver the highest-quality, most cost-effective transportation possible," Ceretto said. "The NFTA does a good job with the resources they have, but could do even more if they receive their fair share of state aid in the budget. I'll be working with Sen. Maziarz and the NFTA to deliver the funding that the residents of our area need and deserve."
"From end-users to editorial boards, there is widespread support in Western New York for increasing state support to the NFTA," Maziarz said. "In order to preserve the NFTA's unique mix of light rail, bus, and other modes of transportation, we need to secure a fair and equitable investment from the state. That's what we'll be working towards as we move forward through the budget process."
The NFTA serves the largest metropolitan area in upstate New York, and is one of only a few transit authorities to operate a light rail system, as well as two airports. Even though the NFTA has this additional expense, its request for a 5-percent increase in state funding was trimmed to a 1.35 percent increase. The funding increase was requested to supplement the light rail system operations. Without it, the NFTA will be forced to operate more services, with more customers than other upstate areas, with less funding.
The GOP members said NFTA transit is vital for the local economy, as it helps transport tourists who spend money in Niagara Falls. It also helps the poor and people with developmental disabilities get to the grocery store and other areas in their day-to-day lives.
"While we have made economic development in Western New York a top priority, that development must be supported with high-quality infrastructure," Ceretto said. "Billions of dollars is spent in New York City to upgrade the already lavish Grand Central Station, but our light rail system in Western New York is going under funded. This is unfair to the residents of Western New York. Our transit system is important to our regions success, and we must make sure it has all the funding it needs."