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Flushing pols rally against transit cuts

Amalgamated Transit Union Division 1056 President I. Daneek Miller (third from l.) speaks out against cutting transportation spending during a rally at a downtown Flushing bus stop. Photo by Connor Adams Sheets
TimesLedger Newspapers

Flushing’s state legislators joined with the local transportation workers union Tuesday afternoon in support of a nationwide initiative to stop the bleeding of federal and state dollars from transportation coffers.

Leaders and members of Amalgamated Transit Union Division 1056 stood with state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone), state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) near a busy downtown Flushing bus stop to decry a proposal in Washington to cut federal transportation funding by as much as 30 percent.

The cuts would lead to diminished service and lost jobs throughout the city, much as the diversion of $143 million in funding from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s budget did last year, according to I. Daneek Miller, president of Division 1056, based in Rosedale.

“This is one of the 30 percent of buses in the nation that may not be here if they make these cuts to federal transportation funding,” Miller said, gesturing toward a bus waiting at the stop, near 136-80 39th Ave. “We’ve suffered enough here in New York City. Based on the cuts from last year, we are already aware of the impacts on the communities we live in, and we don’t want to have to go through that again.”

As part of the event, dubbed “Don’t Cross Out Public Transit,” the leaders also emphasized the need for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign the Transit Funding Lockbox Bill, passed by both chambers of the state Legislature last year but has yet to reach Cuomo’s desk. The bill would mandate that all state dollars dedicated to the MTA be spent by that agency, rather than reallocated to other priorities like balancing the state’s budget, as occurred last year.

“Money to improve our infrastructure and transportation is sorely needed not just in Flushing, but across Queens and New York City,” Meng said. “I sincerely urge the governor to sign this lockbox bill so we can bring badly needed transportation funding to the downtown Flushing area.”

Despite Flushing’s being host to the 10th-most-trafficked subway station and the third-busiest pedestrian intersection in the entire city, transit projects such as Long Island Rail Road platform improvements have stalled and bus lines were eliminated last year, the legislators lamented.

“We need to properly fund the MTA and that starts with, at the very minimum, letting the MTA keep the funds it gets,” Lancman said. “When Albany steals that money from the MTA, it is not only cheating the riders of buses, subways and railroads, but also cheating the taxpayers.”

An electronic petition imploring the federal government not to cut transportation funding is posted at supporttransit.org.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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