Green Group Praises Ravitch Commission for Bold Plan to Rescue MTA

Calls Report a “Clear-eyed Assessment of the Importance of Transit” to New York Metro Area

NEW YORK, Dec. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Ravitch Commission’s proposed rescue package for the financially troubled Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is a bold proposal that puts the people and economy of New York City first, according to Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). Appointed by Governor David Paterson to deliver a report by Dec. 5 for recommended state legislative action, the Commission today suggested measures that would raise about $2.1 billion in new revenue, which includes tolling the East River and Harlem River bridges.

“We applaud the Ravitch Commission for recognizing the need for bold action, and seeking ways to fund transit that helps commuters get out of their cars and into trains and buses. Everyone benefits from better transit, less traffic and a healthier environment,” said Andy Darrell, vice president for Living Cities at Environmental Defense Fund, a member of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Sustainability Advisory Board and the 2007 New York State Traffic Mitigation Commission. “From Long Island City to Chinatown, from the Lower East Side to downtown Brooklyn, and from Harlem to the South Bronx, communities on both sides of the river crossings will be big winners if transit is made more attractive and traffic is no longer funneled past their homes and through their neighborhoods.”

EDF maintains that the addition of new bus rapid transit lines should be made a priority, characterizing them as the single most important innovation that can be used to help communities underserved by transit. The organization also contends that MTA funds should also be used to encourage suburbanites to take transit by providing them with better parking options.

“These proprietary funds could be a boon to expanding service in cost-effective ways, like bus rapid transit, continued Darrell. “The fairest thing to do in these tough times is to extend the transit lifeline to all New Yorkers with innovations that can be provided quickly and cheaply.”

Nationally, transportation is the number two household spending item – second to shelter and ahead of food – and is responsible for 30% of greenhouse gas emissions throughout the U.S. It also is the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gases in New York.

Darrell cautioned that accommodations need to be made for small businesses if they are at risk of shouldering too great an economic burden from tolls. Exemptions, discounts, tax breaks, and one-time crossing fees should be considered and sorted through the political process to ensure that no one pays more than their share of the cost of transit.

EDF maintains that transit is vital to the economic health of the region and that investment must be made in maintaining and improving transit to help economic growth, especially since America now officially is in a recession.

“The Ravitch Commission recognized that transit is the lifeblood of New York City’s economy and environment, and that New York needs an MTA investment plan that responds to today’s economic realities,” concluded Darrell. “Their report is a clear-eyed assessment of the importance of transit to the New York Metropolitan Area and a realistic model for funding this vital part of city life.”

Environmental Defense Fund, a leading national nonprofit organization, represents more than 500,000 members. Since 1967, Environmental Defense Fund has linked science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships to create breakthrough solutions to the most serious environmental problems. For more information, visit

    John Bianchi, 212-576-2700-w or 917-693-4290-c,
    Sean Crowley, 202-572-3331-w or 202-550-6524-c,
    Mary Barber, 212-616-1351-w;



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