Westchester County Executive George Latimer has joined forces with a bi-partisan group of County Executives calling on our Nation’s leaders to provide critical funding for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).
Latimer said: “Our region depends on the MTA – plain and simple. The commuter rail lines carries large swaths of our workforce, both into New York City and out of it, keeping the engine of our economy going. Allowing the MTA to wither away will create far reaching economic consequences far greater than we are already experiencing today due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I am proud to join with my fellow County Executives – from both sides of the aisle – on an issue of such regional importance.”
County Executives from Rockland, Orange, Putnam, Dutchess and Westchester Counties are urging President Trump, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer for immediate action to prevent the elimination of commuter rail service in the region.
The full letter can be read below:
"Dear President Trump, Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy, and Leader Schumer:
We are a bipartisan group of five county executives representing the more than two million people in New York’s Hudson Valley who are served by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Metro-North Railroad. Our suburban and rural constituents depend on a reliable public transit system serving the entire New York-New Jersey-Connecticut tri-state area. We are greatly concerned about the future of our transit agency. We therefore urge you to respond to transit leaders’ request for support with $12 billion in federal aid beginning this month.
Our counties are representative of America as a whole. Countywide and legislative races are routinely and hotly contested by strong candidates of both major political parties. Our constituents are predominantly striving homeowners whose largest investments are in their homes, their schools, and their communities. Their livelihoods and their security rest on the strong transit connections that exist within and among our counties and between them and the other parts of the surrounding region.
Prior to COVID, Metro-North ridership approached 100,000,000 annually. Ours is the third most heavily trafficked commuter railroad in the nation. Even while ridership fell during COVID, Metro-North provided a lifeline for essential workers to reach their frontline jobs in what was the first and, in many respects, still the most severely impacted area of the country. Alongside their neighbors in other essential roles, Metro-North workers rose to the challenge, serving as heroes moving heroes and making it possible for our region to confront the virus and flatten the curve.
Now, Metro-North is in dire need of your support. State and county coffers have been emptied as our tax receipts plummeted alongside the fares, tolls, and other revenue streams that pay for transit service. Without emergency federal aid through a COVID stimulus package, the MTA is contemplating slashing services in half, eliminating service entirely in two of our counties and decimating it in the remaining three. In this unacceptable scenario, thousands of transit workers would suffer layoffs and hundreds of thousands of commuters would be left stranded or struggling onto chronically delayed, crowded, and poorly maintained trains.
Our constituents deserve better than this doomsday scenario for the railroad that ties our region together. Without this essential connection, this lifeline to work and other opportunities, our communities will struggle to recover. Our region’s suburban economy will be placed in the most serious jeopardy, with national and even global implications. Every $1 billion invested in transit nationally drives $5 billion in growth in GDP, the reverse is also true that the lack of this funding will be a multiplier in shrinking our national GDP. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority drives as much as 10 percent of the nation’s GDP.
Our constituents have built lives, homes, schools, and investments here that should be the foundation of success for generations. Without adequate emergency support for basic public infrastructure, with the rug virtually pulled out from under us, our counties will face severe hardship for decades. We know the value of bipartisan leadership in our region and, at this time of national crisis, we need bipartisan leadership at the federal level to deliver transit relief funding and preserve the integrity of our suburban communities. We urge you to act quickly and relieve us and our fellow Americans of the great anxiety such uncertainty and looming threats have brought us.
Ed Day, Rockland County Executive
Steven Neuhaus, Orange County Executive
MaryEllen Odell, Putnam County Executive
Marcus Molinaro, Dutchess County Executive
George Latimer, Westchester County Executive