Queens Lawmakers on the Move May 13, 2020

Queens County City Council News

CM Miller, Grodenchik Urges MTA to Make Permanent Atlantic Ticket Pilot

Councilmember I. Daneek Miller
City Councilmember Barry Grodenchik

City Council Members I. Daneek Miller (D-Cambria Heights, Hollis, Jamaica, Jamaica Estates, Laurelton, Queens Village, Springfield Gardens, St. Albans) and Barry S. Grodenchik (D-Bayside, Queens, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Holliswood, Jamaica Estates, Little Neck Oakland Gardens, Queens Village) yesterday signed on to the Ride Fair Coalition letter to MTA Chairman Patrick Foye urging the agency to make permanent and expand the Atlantic Ticket pilot program that is set to expire this June.

The alternative fare structure – $5 per single ride trip with a weekly unlimited option that includes transfers to subways and buses – would serve to shorten commute times for city residents in the outer boroughs, reduce crowding in the interest of public health by diverting riders to the MTA’s rail system, and capture new revenue from riders that are currently priced-out.

The coalition is united in calling on the MTA to implement the program throughout all of Queens and Brooklyn, with further study on the implementation of the program in Manhattan, the Bronx and on the Metro-North.

“The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted what we already knew- that inequitable access to infrastructure, including transit, contributes to the conditions that have led to worse health outcomes in communities of color. As we prepare to un-PAUSE and reopen the City, we must utilize all of the tools at our disposal, including commuter rails. The expansion and permanence of the Atlantic Ticket would be a game-changer for residents of Queens and Brooklyn, giving back 5-10 hours a week for people to spend with their families and in their communities,” said Miller.

“In the immediate future, it would allow the essential workers at the frontlines of this crisis access to more reliable and faster transit options. I thank my colleagues in government and all members of the Ride Fair Coalition for joining us in this urgent call,” he added.

“Atlantic ticket has been a tremendous success, allowing residents of Queens and Brooklyn to travel quickly and easily between the two boroughs, saving both time and money.  It is time to make Atlantic ticket permanent and to expand the model to the entire Long Island Rail Road and Metro North Railroad systems,” said Grodenchik.  

“While we are fighting this pandemic, we want essential workers to minimize transit times; when New York reopens, an expansion of Atlantic ticket pricing to our entire commuter rail systems would strengthen the economy by making New Yorkers’ commutes more manageable and protect public health by helping to avoid subway overcrowding.”

Schumer, Gillibrand Announce Nearly $4 Billion in MTA Funding

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

U.S. Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) yesterday announced $3,910,000,000 in federal funding for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), allocated in the CARES Act through the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). 

The funding will be used to offset major revenue losses for the agency, which operates the New York City Subway, Busses, and Metro-North and Long Island Railroads. The COVID-19 crisis has had a major impact on the MTA’s system, resulting in a dramatic drop in ridership due to social distancing and stay-at-home requirements across the region. 

This funding will ensure that workers who rely on the MTA can continue to safely ride public transit as they support the city during this crisis. 

“We fought hard and overcame much opposition to deliver this massive $4 billion lifeline to the MTA and it heroic workers, who answered the call of duty during this unprecedented health and economic crisis,” said Schumer. “We must invest in sustaining our mass transit system because a vibrant bus, subway and commuter rail network is fundamental to recovering from this crisis and rebuilding our economy. And we must remember those workers we have lost even while we reward those who risked their health during the crisis.”

“New York City is the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak and this funding will ensure that the MTA can continue providing reliable public transportation services for residents, health care providers, and patients,” said Gillibrand. “New York’s transportation system of subways, buses and commuter rails serves as a lifeline for essential workers and health care workers who rely on transit to get to and from hospitals and health centers. I am proud to have fought for this funding in the CARES Act and will continue pushing for additional federal funding and resources New Yorkers need during this crisis

PA Williams Wants Preservation of Education 7 Youth Funding

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams yesterday called for the preservation of critical funding for educational and youth programming at a remote New York City Council executive budget hearing by the Committees on Finance and Education. 

Williams highlighted the massive shifts in schooling via remote learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and said that while operational costs may need some reduction, cuts at the levels currently proposed would significantly reduce educational access to students and communities in need while harming the city long-term.

“It is nonsensical to reduce funding for the DOE [Department of Education] when the very nature of learning has drastically changed,” Williams argued. “It is our responsibility to eliminate the digital divide and ensure all students have access to the technology they need to continue their education…. The transition to distance learning has created a great deal of challenges for our students, their families, and teachers – we need an equitably-funded strategy to address these problems.”

He stressed that the investment in students cannot end when the school year does, and that the Summer Youth Employment Program [SYEP] must be adapted in the current crisis, not cut as the administration has proposed. 

He said that “SYEP’s young and eager workforce deserves an opportunity to build their own foundations for a promising future while they serve and strengthen our city. We cannot leave young people idle all summer during this pandemic, and I am urging the Mayor to restructure this program.”

Meng Announce Millions in COVID Funding For Local Health Providers

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park) announced the awarding of $50.7 million in federal funding for health-related providers located in her congressional district in Queens. 

The funds, which are allocated under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, will help 1,485 local providers in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act was the third coronavirus relief bill that was passed by Congress and enacted into law.

“Queens has been the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis and many of my constituents continue to suffer from the effects of the outbreak,” said Meng. “These funds are vital. It is essential that we receive the financial resources we need, and I’m pleased that funding from the CARES Act is making its way to providers in communities throughout our congressional district. I commend this funding but we need even more, and I will continue the fight to ensure that we obtain all the money we deserve.”

The $50.7 million will go to medical offices, labs, hospitals, health care facilities, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and other health-related facilities.

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