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New York representatives fighting to save Northeastern transit funding

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Chris Kreussling
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via Flickr

A couple of upstate members of Congress are leading the charge to push back against proposed cuts to mass transit funding in the Northeast as part the transportation bill.

Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter of Rochester and Republican Rep. Richard Hanna from the Utica area are behind an effort to get as many members of the congressional delegation from seven states to sign a letter urging the conference committee to reinstate funding for the High Density States Program. That program has been a lifeline for local transit providers, earmarking more than a half a million dollars to New York state alone. Hanna said it would be a real hardship if this funding is lost.

"It services a constituency that may not own their own cars that rely on it," Hanna said. "And they don’t recoup the costs they get out of it. Most of these mass transit companies are barely breaking even."

So, Hanna and Slaughter have gotten most of the members of the House in seven state’s to sign a letter pushing for the funds to be reinstated. Only Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) failed to sign among New York’s delegation, and that’s because he is on the House-Senate Conference Committee that is working out the final bill. He said he is confident that the amendment that passed in the House version of the bill can be swept away from the final piece of legislation.

"You sense that with Sen. Schumer and his prominent position in the Senate  as well as some of the prominent members of the committee that agree with my position on reinstating the funding, that I think we should be okay," Katko said. "And, it’s not like adding additional funding to the bill. It’s there already. It’s just how its apportioned and we’ve got to make sure it’s apportioned fairly.”

Katko said the Northeastern states should get a disproportionate amount of funding because they represent 50 percent of mass transit. The transportation bill overall calls for spending more than $320 billion on roads and bridges and mass transit over the next six years.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.