Over 20 State Legislators Call On Governor To Include Fare Freeze, Free Bus Funding In Budget

By MNN Desk Report
Published Wed, Mar 22, 2023 11:50 PM

ALBANY, NY – The one-house budget proposals released last week by both houses of the New York State Legislature include a fare freeze at $2.75, and free bus pilot for 2 routes per borough (10 in total).

Over 20 state legislators gathered Wednesday to call on the Governor to include funding for a fare freeze and free bus pilot in the final state budget as negotiations continue through April 1.

"The MTA is on an express track towards fiscal calamity and it is imperative we intervene to save and improve the nation's most important transit system," said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris. "Our budget proposals include funding to freeze fares, pilot free buses, and address the MTA's financial challenges - improvements that would be game-changers and put the MTA on solid footing for a better future."

“Our one-house budget proposals delivered historic investments in the MTA. We rejected the $3 fare hike proposed by the Governor, proposed investing $50 million dollars in a free bus pilot in New York City, and in the Senate, proposed expanding the Automated Bus Lane Enforcement (ABLE) program. These investments will get our constituents where they need to go - whether it’s home, to work, to play, or to a place of worship,” said Assembly Member Mamdani“We are calling on the governor to protect these investments in the final budget and to expand them — so that we can bring them home to our constituents, working class New Yorkers who desperately need, and deserve these investments in public transit.”


"Working New Yorkers can't afford another fare increase,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal. “Without more funding, an MTA train or bus ride will rise to over $3 a pop. We’re in the thick of a record inflation and affordability crisis, so we must include a fare freeze in the budget to keep much-needed dollars and cents in New Yorkers’ pockets. I join Assembly Member Mamdani and my colleagues in calling for new funding for a fare freeze at $2.75 and a free bus pilot for two routes per borough."

Senator John Liu, member of the Senate Transportation Committee, stated, "New Yorkers are sick and tired of overpaying for transit service that continually fails to address basic needs like excessive wait times for buses and trains. Rather than hiking fares to cover for lagging ridership, let’s fix the MTA with reliability, accountability, efficiency, and let’s make buses free for all, as other major metropolitan areas like Washington D.C. have already achieved. Many thanks to Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani and our colleagues from both houses who recognize the urgency and necessity of this effort to improve transit and increase ridership.”

“The State Senate has clearly demonstrated our commitment to investing in public transit with the rejection of a fare freeze and inclusion of free bus pilot funding in the Senate One House Resolution,” said State Senator Julia Salazar. “Now, we urge the Governor to include these crucial priorities in the final budget to begin to make our public transit system truly accessible and affordable to New Yorkers."

"Accessible and affordable public transportation is not a luxury, but a necessity for communities to thrive. By investing in free bus routes and stopping fare increases, we can empower individuals to access education, employment, and essential services, while promoting sustainability and reducing traffic congestion. Let us prioritize the needs of our citizens and build a future where everyone can move forward together," said Assembly Member Michaelle Solages.

"An accessible and functioning public transit system is critical to the health of our city and the well-being of our communities," said Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF - Manhattan), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Housing. "Riders are now experiencing the impact of years of disinvestment in our public infrastructure as they are forced to wait longer for trains, experience service cuts and a potential $3 fare hike. To bring ridership back to pre-pandemic levels, our final budget must fix the MTA by funding more frequent train and bus service, launching a free bus pilot program across all five boroughs and guaranteeing that everyday New Yorkers are not left footing the bill through increased fares."

“With inflation affecting multiple facets of everyday life, the one-house budget proposal to include $197 million in funding the fare freeze at $2.75 and $50 million for a bus pilot program for two routes per borough, would alleviate pressure of the countless people that commute daily,” said Assembly Member Alicia L. Hyndman. “I support my fellow elected officials for these adjustments in addition to Governor Hochul’s final state budget.”

“We can’t give up on the vision of a better public transportation system. Fare hikes hit those most vulnerable the hardest and disincentivize mass transit when we should be doing the opposite and doing creative things to encourage riders to come back. The Assembly and Senate one house budgets get the MTA the support it needs without onerous rate hikes, while laying the groundwork for system improvements like free buses,” said Assembly Member Robert Carroll.

“Increasing the MTA fare at a time when New Yorkers are struggling with rising inflation will lead to more financial insecurity and hardship for working class New Yorkers who rely every day on the MTA’s services. The $197 million in funding for a $2.75 fare freeze combined with $50 million in funding for a free bus pilot program included in both one-house budget proposals demonstrates the legislature’s commitment to addressing this issue. I am proud to stand with my colleagues in the Assembly and Senate Majority to call for this vital funding to be included in the final state budget,” said Assembly Member John Zaccaro, Jr.

"As a Southeast Queens lawmaker and commuter, I know the persistent challenges our working-class residents face for a timely, reliable, and affordable commute. In my district, “outer-borough” neighborhoods like Far Rockaway and Rosedale suffer among the city’s longest and most expensive commutes. Working-class families in Southeast Queens and New York cannot survive, much less thrive, without public transit, and we need to start giving this crucial resource the investment it deserves. I proudly join Assemblymember Mamdani in his call to Fix the MTA, freeze the fare, and fight for free bus pilot funding in the final state budget," said Assembly Member Khaleel Anderson.

“The legislature and the governor agree we need to fix the MTA. However, our position entering three-way negotiations is clear: we won’t fix the MTA on the backs of straphangers. The state needs to step up, freeze fares, and go one step further by piloting free buses—a reality in over a hundred cities across the world, including in the US.” said Assembly Member Harvey Epstein.

“The MTA cannot hike fares at the detriment of low income communities, especially as we are in recovery from the pandemic. We need to increase service to our families in our City’s transit deserts. Let’s freeze fares and make sure our City keeps moving!” said Assembly Member Eddie Gibbs.

“A strong public transit system is essential to New York’s economy and New Yorkers’ quality of life,” said Assembly Member Ron Kim. “That is why I enthusiastically support fully funding the MTA, freezing fares, and making bus services free. If our governor is serious about helping New Yorkers get back to work then help make the MTA safer, more reliable, and more affordable. All of these goals are within our reach if we use our ambition to help sustain our vibrant public transit system.”

"New York currently has a surplus of over 8 billion dollars. There’s no reason why we can’t adequately fund the MTA to stave off another fare hike. I’m pleased that my legislative colleagues in both the Assembly and Senate included $197m in funding for a fare freeze at $2.75, and $50m for a free bus pilot for 2 routes per borough in both one-house budgets. I call on Governor Hochul to include this funding in the final budget as well. I’m also proud to have recently introduced a new bill as part of the “Fix the MTA” legislative package that would also help support the MTA’s overall fiscal health. I urge my colleagues to pass this bill this session and work together to help improve public transit without passing the buck to struggling New Yorkers. ," said Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas.

“I applaud Assembly Member Mamdani and the advocates urging Governor Hochul to include an MTA fare freeze and free bus pilot program in the state budget. As high living costs continue to hurt New Yorkers, these provisions would secure affordable and accessible public transit at a critical time,” said Assembly Member Rebecca A. Seawright. “I am proud to cosponsor and support these initiatives so New York residents can finally get relief.”

"Both the Assembly and Senate have put forward proposals that show faith in a revitalized transit system. Right now, we're allowed to envision a brighter future that prioritizes working people by making our most crucial services affordable for all. However, in order to make these hopes a reality, we need the Governor to follow through and include additional money for the MTA in the final budget,” said Assembly Member Marcela Mitaynes. “That's why I'm proudly standing proudly alongside my colleagues in the state legislature to demand a budget that includes funding for a fare freeze and free buses. We cannot turn away from working New Yorkers now."

“Funding for the MTA is a matter of social justice,” said Assembly Member Grace Lee. “By depriving our public transportation of funding or by shifting the burden of its costs to its riders, we are hurting the millions of low-income New Yorkers who depend on it to live their lives and support their families. I stand with my colleagues in the Assembly in support of the proposal to increase the system’s accessibility by funding a free bus pilot program in New York City and in opposition to fare hikes.”

"The MTA is the backbone of New York City's economy. We demand better and deserve better”, said Assemblymember Steven Raga. “I stand with my colleagues in calls for real, lasting change and investment in our public transit system. Together, we can Fix The MTA and build a brighter future for all New Yorkers."

"Subways and buses are safer when more people ride them," said Assemblymember Tony Simone. "The Assembly budget proposal recognizes this truth by rejecting fare hikes and piloting free bus lines. New Yorkers are returning to transit and increasing fares now would be a setback for our transit oriented future.” said Assembly Member Tony Simone.