At Grand Central, Sen. Clinton Calls for Funding Mass Transit

clinton_crop2.jpg
Clinton was joined by (l-r) Larry Hanley, of the Amalgamated Transit Union, NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and MTA chief Elliot Sander

Surrounded by a throng of curious commuters under the clock at Grand Central Terminal last Friday, Sen. Hillary Clinton held a press conference calling for increased federal funding for mass transit, saying municipalities around the country needed a "federal partner to get us over the hump of increased demand."

On August 1, Clinton introduced the Saving Energy Through Public Transportation Act to the Senate; it has already passed the House of Representatives. The bill would provide $1.7 billion, including $237 million for New York, to help public transit systems keep fares down and prevent service cuts in the face of rising fuel costs and soaring ridership (download the bill).

"Across America places that thought there would never be much demand for public transit are now finding that there is," said Sen. Clinton. "We can’t keep burdening public transit systems without giving them the money they need to run." Noting that "we are living off the investments of a prior time," Clinton added that "it is unacceptable that [mass transit] commuters would be burdened with further fare hikes and service cuts…. Commuters should not be penalized. They’re part of the solution."

Asked how the city could increase the capacity of its overburdened mass transit system, NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said "buses can be a major component," and spoke of "re-engineering the city’s 6,000 miles of streets…to better accommodate buses."

MTA chief Elliot Sander, whose agency is struggling with debt and has already said another round of fare increases is on the horizon, emphasized the need for federal support. "If we don’t have a planning process in this country," he said, "we will fall further and further behind."

You can see Sen. Clinton’s Sept. 9 testimony on the mass transit legislation before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs here.

Photo: Sarah Goodyear

  • momos

    The bill is a nice start, but $237 million hardly a drop in the bucket.

  • anonymous

    She deserves a lot of praise for becoming a leader on this issue, even though momos’ comment is right: this is just the beginning of the U.S. waking up to this reality, and she’s truly helping. Good for her.

    Of course I’m also glad that she’s suffered due punishment (not winning the Dem nomination) for her vote for the Iraq War.

    With that bit of justice out of the way, plus this new good work, I think I’m ready to count myself a supporter of hers.

  • Caption

    Don’t forget to identify the great Larry Hanley, of the ATU, who spearheaded this legislation. He is the bearded gent to the right of Hilary in the pic. (Hil’s left)

  • Charlie D.

    As Al Gore has proven, one can actually be quite influential when they are NOT President. Hillary has the potential to do such things herself. If she keeps her attention on real solutions to our nation’s problems (mass transit, sensible growth patterns, etc), she will be able to do great things.

  • ben

    I wonder what transported her there?

  • Sarah Goodyear

    Caption,
    He is ID’d in the caption…credit where credit’s due and all.

  • zach

    Hillary for transportation czar! Hillary for healthcare czar! Hillary for something. She’s got good ideas, even if she lacks in charisma. Obama needs to announce her into a cabinet position.

  • poncho

    she just gave a shout out to the need for increased funding for mass transit and passenger rail on Good Morning America this morning.

  • Dan

    Looks like Hillary has decided she’s in the Senate for life, and now it’s time to get some largess for her constituents.

    She’s definetely due some power position, but being a Senator from New York is too good to pass up for a cabinet post. Some position in the Senate leadership, perhaps Majority leader, could bring drastic changes to the way business in done in Washington and where the money goes. We can only hope.

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