Elected Officials and Transit Advocates Ask MTA to Restore Funding for Second Avenue Subway Extension to 125th Street

11/03/2015

State Assembly Member Robert J. Rodriguez (East Harlem) was joined by a coalition of elected officials, transportation advocates, labor and community organizations, to call on the MTA to restore funding for the extension of the Second Avenue Subway to 125th Street.

In a press conference held at the corner of Second Avenue at E. 96th Street, the coalition urged the MTA to demonstrate fairness and leadership to communities north of 96th Street, and include funding in the capital plan to complete Phase Two the Second Avenue Subway, as it was originally scheduled and designed.  The coalition called last week’s MTA board vote to reduce funding for the project, shocking and indefensible.    

Besides Rodriguez, Coalition members included Comptroller Scott Stringer, State Senators Liz KruegerJosé M. Serrano and Adriano Espaillat; State Assembly Members James Brennan, Rebecca Seawright and Brian Kavanagh; Council Member Daniel Garodnick, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.  Also in the Coalition were Thomas K. Wright, President of the Regional Plan Association (RPA), Denise Richardson (General Contractors Association), Veronica Vanterpool (Tri-State Transportation Campaign), Marcia Bystryn (New York League of Conservation Voters), Emma Bologna (CIVITAS) and NYS Laborers.

“The MTA’s decision to omit $1 billion dollars from the Second Avenue Subway plan defers the dream of those in East Harlem, which would provide economic access and opportunity to one of the lowest income communities in New York City. I’m requesting that MTA restore the funding that had been promised, and build the modern transportation infrastructure that this community and city has always deserved.”– State Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez, who represents the 68th District.  

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) said: “It is astonishing that the MTA has, once again, delayed progress on the Second Avenue Subway and are not even contemplating applying for a federal New Starts grant until the next capital plan.  It is even more shocking when you consider that Phase 2 runs through some of New York’s poorest neighborhoods, with area median income less than $34,000 and dropping as low as $15,625 near the 125th Street station.  This community desperately needs the economic development and opportunities that the Second Avenue Subway would bring.  The MTA should take another look to find the resources necessary to move this project forward so that New Yorkers don’t have to endure yet another delay on this critical project.”

"The MTA must restore full funding to Phase II of the Second Avenue Subway now, " said New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. "This is an issue of economic justice for communities that have been denied true transit equality for too long. We can't wait five years, ten years or yet another 100 years to bring the subway to Harlem."

“The MTA must not make New Yorkers wait through another unnecessary delay on the Second Avenue Subway,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Widespread congestion, slowdowns, and stoppages are now a fact of daily life for the East Side’s one existing subway line, and expanding capacity onto a new subway line is the only real solution. Never mind the terrible message that’s sent if this project finally reaches completion on the affluent Upper East Side, just to stall out as it nears East Harlem. Equity, fairness, and smart planning all demand the MTA press ahead and keep building.”-Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer

State Senator José M. Serrano, said: "The often-delayed Second Avenue Subway project represents a much needed addition of mass transit options for the long-suffering subway riders who make their commute on the congested East Side of Manhattan. I have serious concerns that any reduction in funding for the Second Avenue Subway will cause further construction delays, which will prolong the inconvenience to residents and businesses along the construction zone, while continuing to deny much needed service improvements for residents of the East Side, El Barrio and the South Bronx.  Despite yesterday’s news from the MTA, I will continue to advocate for the timely expansion of the Second Avenue Subway, and I will work with my colleagues to ensure that the next phase of this critical project is completed."

"Public transit is vital to our regional economy. It does much more than just move people from point A to point B – it drives social mobility and economic empowerment. We need a network that reaches all of our communities, and after more than a century transit equity is finally within reach for the far East Side and East Harlem. Pulling support for Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway at this critical point is simply unacceptable. The MTA must correct this short-sighted and unjust mistake,” said State Senator Liz Krueger

"Phase two of the Second Avenue Subway is a vital link to upper Manhattan that needs to be built as soon as possible. I will work with Assembly Member Rodriguez to restore the $1 billion in funding cut to the project. Harlem residents have already waited far too long for a new subway line that is badly needed and long overdue," said State Senator Adriano Espaillat.   

"Our City's transportation infrastructure is as important to New Yorkers as having a roof over their heads and a meal on the table. Recent cuts to the MTA capital plan threaten the success or our transportation system and short changes northern Manhattan residents and others who rely on public transit each day. As a member of the Capital Program Review Board, Harlem resident and representative for an uptown community, I am disappointed by the decision to halt MTA expansion of the 2nd Avenue subway to 125th Street. To ensure that MTA is working for all New York residents, I join in the call to restore funding and continue work on this essential improvement that will allow more efficient access to and from our community to neighborhoods throughout the City," said Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright.

“It is unconscionable that the MTA is not being transparent and forthcoming as to what propelled this surprise $1 billion cut,” said Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, “I demand an explanation on behalf of the people of New York and a restoration of the much needed funding to keep the Second Avenue Subway project on track,” she added.

“The full Second Avenue Subway will bring subway access to parts of the East Side that have been transit-starved for decades. Slowing down construction jeopardizes this goal, as we lose key personnel and institutional knowledge. The MTA has been forced to wait through months of political horse trading that led to an extended timeline and budget cut for Phase 2. This is unacceptable and we must continue to fight for better capital funding mechanisms and the completed Second Avenue Subway,” said Assembly Member Dan Quart.

“It is disappointing to learn that the 2nd phase of the Second Avenue subway has been defunded. New Yorkers have been waiting decades for this subway line and at this rate, those of us in Lower Manhattan are losing hope that we will see this ever reach the Lower East Side in our lifetime”, said Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, District 2.

"If we want to deliver a full-build Second Avenue Subway this century, we need to stop the delays and start delivering real progress," said Council Member Dan Garodnick. "This project is a top priority for New Yorkers, and we need to make sure that the MTA has the funds to complete it."

"The Second Avenue Subway is long overdue. Completing Phase II in an expedient manner is essential for improving commutes in a borough that is only growing. We must keep construction on track, going north and then south," said Council Member Ben Kallos.

“Cutting the funding for the next phase of the Second Avenue subway is a big setback to the city’s efforts to alleviate severe overcrowding on our transit network and to extend service to underserved communities. New Yorkers have waited too long for a modern, equitable transit system. We urge the MTA and Governor Cuomo to restore funding to this project so that Phase II of the Second Avenue line can be completed in a timely manner”, said Tom Wright, President, Regional Plan Association.

"When Governor Cuomo reduced the size of the MTA capital plan this summer, he promised to spend more efficiently rather than cut construction projects.  Last week, without input from the public or an opportunity for review, we learned that Governor Cuomo had authorized a cut of one billion dollars from the Second Avenue Subway and made other alterations to the capital program. Subway riders deserve a public explanation for how the updated capital plan fits within the Governor's commitment to keep all the planned transit improvements on track", said John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance.

“The Second Avenue Subway expansion into Harlem must be added back into the MTA’s 2015-2019 capital program. This project is essential to better transit service in Harlem where 70% of Harlem residents use transit to get to work and 80% of Harlem households do not have access to a vehicle. Further delays to this expansion do nothing but add additional costs and extend timelines to a solution that is needed now”, says Veronica Vanterpool, Executive Director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

“Only two words come to mind with the one billion taken away from Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway and that’s Big Mistake”, said Denise Richardson, Executive Director of the General Contractors Association of New Yorkwhose member contractors have been building Phase 1. “By yanking most of the project’s funding in this Capital Program, we have all but ensured that actual construction up to 125th St. won’t begin for at least another five years which is a travesty for Lex Line commuters and the overall local and regional economy”.

"In approving a plan to cut a billion dollars from Phase Two of the Second Avenue Subway, the MTA board of directors never even mentioned this major step out loud. The MTA's failure to explain its reasoning in detail and in advance is sadly not surprising. The agency would be well advised to at least gather all the stakeholders and have that discussion now", said Cate Contino, Coordinator for the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign.

"New Yorkers have among the lowest carbon footprints in the country because of our transit system, but record ridership has left the MTA at a crossroads," said Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters. "Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway, which would be a game changer for East Harlem, is a critical to the system's long-term sustainability. The MTA must find a way to fund it in its capital plan and get it done on a reasonable timeline."