Mayor Bill de Blasio and Sen. Chuck Schumer rode the R train from Brooklyn to Manhattan Thursday in hopes of sending Congress a message: kill the partisan politics and fund long-term transportation investments.
De Blasio and Schumer, accompanied by city DOT commissioner Polly Trottenberg and Partnership for New York City President Kathryn S. Wylde, joined more than 300 leaders in 150 cities across the country for Stand Up for Transportation Day. The current federal transportation bill, funded by a gas tax, is set to expire on May 31.
“The bottom line is we need investment if we expect to have a society that works, if we expect to be able to get around, if we expect to be able to get to work,” de Blasio said at a press conference later held at City Hall.
The MTA is currently facing a $15.2 billion deficit in the $32 billion capital program for 2015-2019. Transit groups have criticized the city for not investing their $100 million contribution, which has not increased over the past 30 years, and de Blasio said the city will be “saying more about what we can do” for MTA funding when the budget is finalized.
“We need investment from Washington,” de Blasio said. “And what we’ve seen in recent years is investment that has not even been close to meeting the needs of this city and so many other cities around the country.”
De Blasio and Schumer swiped into the Fourth Avenue/Ninth Street Station shortly after 8 a.m. on Thursday, according to a pooled report. Schumer encouraged riders on the R train to snap a selfie and post to social media to promote the message.
“Can you help us out on this? We need your voice heard,” de Blasio told commuters.
The politicians passed out leaflets and chatted up commuters during the 15 minute ride to City Hall. One rider thanked de Blasio for the city’s decision to not appeal the stop and frisk court case, another ignored the men, burying her face deeper into Page Six.
Federal transportation funding has remained unchanged since 2009, and has been renewed for short-term periods, according to the mayor’s office.