Regional pols react to MTA’s proposal to reduce West-of-Hudson rail service: ‘Unacceptable,’ ‘absolute madness,’ ‘unthinkable’

Orange /
| 26 Aug 2020 | 07:57

    The Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Wednesday, Aug. 26, adopted a doomsday plan if it did not receive as much as $12 billion in federal aid. Included in the cuts designed to reduce costs by 40 percent would be the elimination of West-of-Hudson commuter service.

    It didn’t take long for local officials and candidates to react to the MTA’s proposal:

    Assemblyman Karl Brabenec (AD-98): “For years, West-of-Hudson commuters, along with area residents, small businesses and government entities have been burdened by taxes and fees from the MTA, horrible service and a fiscal black hole dealing with this bloated bureaucracy. I’m urging my colleagues to pass A5547, which would allow Orange and Rockland counties to withdraw from the MTA. It’s time to take action and not be stepped on anymore.”

    Assemblyman Colin J. Schmitt (AD-99): “The MTA takes and takes from Orange and Rockland county taxpayers and always shortchanges our commuters. This is unacceptable. I will work with officials of both parties to push back on this nonsense as the MTA seeks to once again take advantage of our region to compensate for their operational and leadership inadequacies.”

    Republican Congressional (CD-18) candidate Chele Farley: “I spoke with Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus and he agreed with me that this latest announcement that we may lose the Port Jervis and Pascack Valley lines is absolute madness. We need emergency federal aid and to reopen the economy so that ridership may increase again. My opponent, Sean Maloney, sits on the House Transportation Committee and yet has failed to secure the federal aid needed to save our MTA service.”

    Senate and Assembly majority members: State Senators David Carlucci (SD-38), James Skoufis (SD-39) and Jen Metzger (SD-42) and Assembly members Ken Zebrowski (AD-96), Ellen Jaffee (AD-97), Aileen Gunther (AD-100) and Jonathan Jacobson (AD-104):

    “While we understand no final decisions have been made - and fully appreciate the catastrophic financial impact of COVID-19 on the MTA system - the Senate’s and Assembly’s west-of-Hudson majority members stand in complete solidarity against the unthinkable proposition to eliminate service in Orange and Rockland counties.

    “For every $1 our taxpayers and riders put into the system, we get about 70 cents returned to us in service. Eliminating service for the constituents who continue to rely on transit and the thousands more who will need it upon returning to work will confirm our worst fear: west-of-Hudson is simply expendable to the MTA.

    “Should west-of-Hudson face disproportionate cuts relative to other branches of the MTA, we will begin taking the required steps to remove our counties - and tax dollars - from the agency and either initiate a public takeover of the system and/or contract directly with New Jersey Transit.

    “While we are used to scratching and clawing for every item in the MTA’s capital program and fighting for additional operations, it is unimaginable we are even having this conversation. The MTA would never in a million years consider a complete shutdown of LIRR or entire subway lines. We demand the same respect.”