Downstate New York holds a large percentage of the population and because of that, they usually receive a larger portion of money from the budget, especially when it comes to transportation. That doesn’t mean the need for more transportation funding in upstate is any less.
“For many years most of the money has been going downstate,” Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter (D-Syracuse) said.
This year is no different.
Not including MTA funds, the Governor’s budget proposal would give downstate counties including Westchester and Rockland, a $3 million increase to their transit systems budget. Upstate counties would only receive a $2 million increase. That’s something Hunter says she wants to see change.
“We absolutely need to have conversations about how we get people from one place to another that doesn’t include them riding in a car.”
Hunter says this starts with improving the walkability of upstate and also increasing the number of buses and routes.
“It could easily take two hours of transfers on the bus going down to the hub. Really we need to do a better job for those taking public transportation.”
“In Syracuse, when you go into the train station, there is one track, for trains that come in from both sides of the state,” Assemblyman Phil Steck (D-Schenectady) said.
Central New York is not the only part of upstate that is feeling the strain from lack of funding. The rail system from Buffalo to Albany was also brought up as an example.
“There just isn’t the revenue to do what we need.”
New York Public Transit Association was hoping to see a $50 million overall increase overall to the transportation system in New York, which is much larger than the Governor’s proposed $5 million.
The final budget is due on April 1st.
While Steck is calling for more state money, he did point out upstate manufacturers are benefitting from providing all the materials to improve the downstate rail systems.