Speaker Heastie Announces Assembly Post-COVID Mass Transit Working Group

Speaker Carl Heastie today announced that the Assembly has created an internal working group to focus on the recovery and future of the state’s mass transit systems as they mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Every day, hardworking New Yorkers rely on buses and trains to get to work, to get their groceries and to live their lives,” Speaker Heastie said. “But the pandemic has taken its toll on our mass transit systems. This working group will examine what the Assembly Majority can do to aid these systems and keep our economy moving safely and efficiently.”

The working group will be chaired by Transportation Committee Chair William B. Magnarelli and will also include the following committee chairs, who will work with the Majority members of their committees: Cities Committee Chair Edward C. Braunstein; Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Chair Amy R. Paulin; and Local Governments Committee Chair Fred W. Thiele, Jr.

The working group will examine challenges that transit systems across the state are facing as a result of the public health crisis, which includes a dramatic drop in ridership. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) ridership dropped 63 percent from 2019 to 2020, and non-MTA transit systems also experienced ridership losses, some at levels of 50 percent or more. This has left these systems struggling, and many have been forced to reduce services as a result. Additionally, the working group will look at transit systems capital investment and operating needs, transit’s impact on the economy and jobs, transit deserts in rural areas of the state, social equity and addressing climate change, and ways to help cities and local governments provide efficient transit services.

“When people think of mass transit in New York State, many think of the MTA, but in my district in Syracuse and across the state, people rely on local transit systems to get where they are going,” Assemblymember Magnarelli said. “We need to look forward to how these systems recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and what they need to best serve their communities in the future.”

“Cities are the economic engines of our state, and transit systems keep them moving,” said Assemblymember Braunstein. “Like every other part of our state, cities and the mass transit systems they support were hit hard by COVID-19, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on this work group to find solutions to help them recover and move forward.”

“The working group will give us an opportunity to address the needs of the MTA and transit systems across the state. They have been hit hard as a result of the pandemic,” Assemblymember Paulin said. “We must increase ridership and revenue. Mass transit is a vital part of our recovery.”

“This working group is an important step in helping the Assembly Majority determine what we can do to aid our local governments as they recover from the effects of the pandemic,” said Assemblymember Thiele. “By working together toward mass transit solutions, we can hopefully help address the needs of this critical service that New Yorkers rely on every day to survive.”