July 29, 2009
The Honorable Jerrold Nadler
House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
2334 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Congressman Nadler:
As Congress undertakes crucial deliberations on the future of federal transportation assistance, I am writing to urge you to oppose H.R. 2746 or any similar initiative that would permanently allow large mass transportation systems to divert federal capital funding to their operating budgets. Such a program could erode transit improvements that took a generation to achieve.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and other agencies serve millions of commuters every day, via rail, bus, bridges and tunnels. Ridership has exploded, largely thanks to the massive capital investment made by these entities in the last two decades. These gains have not only helped us meet this exponential increase in demand, they have allowed us to rebuild century-old systems that were obsolete and at risk of failure.
After an intensive capital campaign that allowed us to repair damage caused by deferred maintenance during the 1970s and 1980s, our regional transportation system has only recently been able to take up major initiatives like the Second Avenue Subway and the South Ferry Terminal projects after generations of delay. By diverting precious capital dollars at this time of economic instability, we run the risk of threatening further delay or even cancellation of portions of these projects.
Any loss in federal capital allocations is further compounded by restrictive state and local budget requirements. In New York State and New York City, government budgets must be balanced by law every year. As tax revenue forecasts show continued declines for both treasuries, we face a painful paradox where, just when capital investment is most urgently needed, our local and state leaders are encouraged to reduce spending. A further reduction of up to 30% in federal capital funding would add to an already difficult fiscal situation.
Our economy will ultimately survive this downturn, as we have overcome past setbacks. But we must work to protect the progress we have made. I appreciate your consideration and would be happy to discuss this matter with you in greater detail at your convenience.
Richard T. AndersonPresident