Monday, December 22, 2008

Coalition opposes CDTA's proposed bus fare hikes and service cuts


For Release 5:00 PM Monday December 22, 2008

Coalition opposes CDTA's proposed bus fare hikes and service cuts

News conference at Citizen Action, 94 Central Avenue, Albany, NY

The Stop the Hike Campaign, a new coalition of organizations, elected officials, and individual citizens, today called on CDTA not to approve proposed bus fare increases and service cuts at the CDTA board meeting tomorrow, Tuesday December 23.

The campaign collected over 800 signatures in 5 days on a petition opposing both the proposed rate hike and service cuts, presented to CDTA on December 12. [see petiton attached; Concerned citizens can sign the petition online at:

Speakers at Monday's news conference, held at Citizen Action, 94 Central Avenue in Albany, included Shawn Morris, President, Albany Common Council; Albany Councilmembers Corey Ellis, Barbara Smith and Cathy Fahey; Doug Bullock, Albany County Legislature, 8th District; Leah Golby, of Capital Region Transit Advocates; Mark Schaeffer of Citizen Action; Cliff Perez of the Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley, and Nate Smith of Citizens for Public Transportation.

The CDTA Board of Directors is scheduled to vote on proposed fare increases at their meeting on Tuesday, December 23 at noon. The Stop the Hike Campaign is being launched by Capital Region Transit Advocates, Capital District Citizen Action, the Capital District Coalition for Accessible Transportation and Citizens for Public Transportation. The campaign opposes any rate hikes and any service cuts by CDTA, and calls on CDTA to find additional funding to maintain and improve bus service.

Shawn Morris, Albany Council President, said, "before CDTA balances their budget on the backs of their core riders, they need to work with employers, public and private sector alike, to encourage more workers to ride the bus and to improve services for the people who already support and depend upon public transportation."

Ward 4 Councilmember Barbara Smith, said "Access to public transportation should be viewed as a right. Low income people should not bear the burden of CDTA's budget deficit. Just as in the current economy as a whole, those who are least able to deal with increases in taxes, rates and fares are those expected to foot the bill - that has to change."

Ward 7 Councilmember Cathy Fahey said, "The bus fare hike is a social justice issue. The majority of people who ride the bus in the City of Albany are the poor, the working poor and/or the disabled. For them, affordable public transportation is a lifeline that enables them to get the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter met. They struggle every day to pay the current fare and most certainly can not afford a 50% increase. There will be less food on the table and the rent may not be paid on time if this increase is approved."

Nate Smith of Citizens for Public Transportation said, "It is natural to worry about how to pay for things in economic hard times, but we believe buses are part of the solution. We all pay for cars in subtle ways, from sprawling parking lots, to six lane roads, to air pollution and and climate disruption, as well as the direct costs of car payments, insurance, and gas."

"Raising bus fares will hurt the people who already can't afford to be part of our car culture and those who can't drive because disability. But we should invest in mass transit for the long term health of our economy, for energy independence, for social equity, for the environment and public health. Better transit service will improve the quality of life of our cities - as a long term alternative to sprawl."

Doug Bullock, 8th District Albany County Legislator, said: "All employers, public, private, and not for profit, should follow the lead of Albany County in providing transit passes to their workers in lieu of parking spaces. CDTA should pursue every source of revenue before increasing the burden on passengers, who are already struggling to make ends meet."

Mark Schaeffer of Citizen Action noted that according to Sunday's New York Times,
"The sorts of jobs Mr. Obama would propose to create involve construction work on roads, mass transit projects, weatherization of government buildings ... among others. .... The Obama team has a list of $136 billion in infrastructure projects from the National Governors Association that consists mostly of transit construction but also includes port expansions and renewable energy programs. ...Federal money to local governments would come with a 'use it or lose it' clause under Mr. Obama’s plans, advisers say."

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