Give us the money we’re owed, N.J. congressmen say to NYC on federal transit funding grab
New Jersey’s congressional delegation told Federal Transit Administration officials to stick to the formula and not give in to New York state’s attempt to win more coronavirus funding at the expense of Garden State and Connecticut transit agencies.
At stake is more than $600 million that NJ Transit could lose if New York’s MTA is successful in using what officials called an unorthodox formula for dividing funds between the three states from December 2020′s Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) passed in March 2021.
The bi-partisan letter signed by 12 members of the New jersey congressional delegation urges Nuria Fernandez, Federal Transit Administration administrator to tell Empire state officials to stick to the same formula that was used to distribute CARES act funding to transit agencies in the three states. That formula is based on population and is used to distribute other federal transit funding.
“New York is attempting to buck long-standing conventional fund sharing standards to short change its neighboring states,” the delegation wrote in the July 22 letter. “The ongoing impasse described here threatens the availability of much-needed transit agency funding and could force reductions in NJ Transit service.”
A financial plan released by the MTA on Wednesday counts on $10.5 billion in federal coronavirus transit aid to avoid a 2021 fare hike and cuts at the authority that run NYC Transit, Metro North and the Long Island Rail Road. The MTA argued that aid it should receive more because its need is greater and should be distributed based on based on revenue losses due to the pandemic.
Nationally, mass transit ridership has been slower to recover from the pandemic even after travel restrictions were lifted. While ridership is recovering as employees return to workplaces, it is still below pre-pandemic levels.
The legislators asked the FTA to reaffirm the traditional distribution formula and to inform New York that “its unilateral approach is unacceptable.” FTA officials said in an earlier interview that negotiating an agreement is a local issue and the administration can’t force the states to agree on a formula.
“Under the specious formula pushed by the New York DOT, the state would receive significantly more funding than it would under the FTA guidance, costing New Jersey and Connecticut hundreds of millions of dollars in vital assistance,” the congress members wrote. “While no doubt true that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has experienced significant pandemic-related hardship, so have the transit agencies of New Jersey and Connecticut.”