RTS and Lawmakers seek robust funding for public transit

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The Regional Transit Service (RTS) and New York State lawmakers held a virtual press conference calling for the inclusion of robust funding for public transit in the final state budget.

Governor Kathy Hochul spoke on behalf of her proposed budget, which calls for a 36 percent increase for the downstate suburban systems and a 13 percent increase for the upstate systems. State Senate and Assembly members’ respective one-house budgets include a 36 percent increase in the upstate systems to match the increase of the downstate systems.

During the conference, lawmakers emphasized the importance of public transit in the upstate area.

“RTS and bus systems like them keep our upstate cities moving,” said Senator Jeremy Cooney.

“Thousands of Rochesterians rely on RTS every day to travel to work and school, get to local shops and restaurants, and visit cultural attractions. I am proud to work with my colleagues in the legislature and with Governor Hochul to ensure investments in upstate transit systems are prioritized in the final budget.”

RTS CEO Bill Carpenter said that “Public transportation is the mobility safety net for so many in our community because they rely on us to get to work, school, medical appointments, the grocery store, and to pick up their children from daycare.”

“Robust transit that is frequent, reliable, and connected drives job growth and economic recovery. It opens up access to critical mental health services. It helps people transition from poverty to prosperity. And it provides a lifeline for senior citizens who want to maintain their independence. I thank Governor Hochul and our representatives in the State Legislature for their support and ask that they include in the final budget the level of funding included in the one-house budgets from the Senate and Assembly.”

In addition to the request for more funding from the state, RTS also is asking for a well-funded, five-year capital plan to address growing capital and infrastructure needs, which would assist in maintaining, upgrading, and building new facilities.

They also plan to make a transition to zero-emission vehicles by 2035.