December 5, 2015
By Mark Henry, President/ Business Agent, (ATU) 1056, and Chair, ATU NYS Legislative Conference Board
Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) advocated an unprecedented increase in transit service at a City Council Hearing on “transportation deserts” last month. ATU Locals 1056 and 1179 commented on legislation – Int. Nos. 964 and 965 and Res. 670 and 903– that focus on improving public transit.
ATU recommends the MTA implements, and City Council support for, a Free Bus to LIRR transfer program similar to the existing free bus to subway program that ended most two-fare zones for commuters.One thing the package de-emphasized somewhat at the expense of capital- intensive rail approaches involves the use of buses. Thus, ATU took no position on Int. 964 which would mandate NYC's Department of Transportation study building a light rail system in the city with an emphasis on serving underserved communities. ATU offered no position on Res. 903 concerning unused and underused rail rights of way other than to re-emphasize the utility of buses as a service option. ATU supported the need to identify “transportation deserts” envisioned every five years by Int.
No. 965 as means to help drive needed improvements in bus service. ATU favors Res. 670's call on the MTA to allow riders traveling on commuter rail within the city to pay a fare equivalent to NYC Transit subways and buses. ATU strongly recommended amending this resolution sponsored by Council Member I. Daneek Miller to include a free transfer between buses and commuter rail, as currently exists between buses and subways and local and express buses. Many communities that require transit or more of it already clamor for better options. Buses connect neighborhoods. City Hall's plans to develop more affordable housing units and housing with less or no parking requirements needs adequate public transit options in place. A free transfer from bus to rail makes a big difference for commuters.