Congressman Gregory Meeks said with congressional support for President Barack Obama’s plan for revitalizing crumbling infrastructure, highlighted just one day before the rally with Obama's visit to the Tappan Zee Bridge, that the country and city can begin to meet the needs of the growing population.
“We need to play catch up,” Meeks said. “We have more people with more destinations than ever before, and if we don’t put the money into our public transportation system and infrastructure, then the country will be falling apart.”
Meeks added that support not only, “makes sense all the way around,” as it would also ensure a more eco-friendly option for the future of city bus service, but that it would also keep dozens of local unions employed in the years to come.
“We can’t have the latest buses on the road if we don’t invest in them,” he said. “We need the new buses that are environmentally friendly that can get people where they have to go in a comfortable way and keep people employed.”
Mark Henry, president and business agent for ATU Local 1056, said he hopes the city would recognize the importance of securing funding for the future of expansive and environmentally friendly transportation.
“Public transportation is the backbone of this city, and it has been the thing that has driven this city from decades ago to the way we run it now,” Henry said. “The need is there for funding public transportation, it’s something that should have been done years ago.”
Meeks said he plans on working across the aisle for support on the infrastructure bill, and Assemblyman David Weprin said he too plans to continue pushing for transportation funding at the state level.
“New York’s transit system and its dedicated workers are the backbone of our economy,” Weprin said. “To keep New York moving forward, I will continue to fight in Albany for an efficient and well-funded transit system.”
Councilman Daneek Miller added that urban communities in particular have been overlooked when it comes to maintenance and infrastructure improvements.
“This is a priority that deserves to be heard at the city, state and federal levels,” Miller said.
The former ATU president and co-chair of the MTA Labor coalition said he too plans to work with his colleagues to find support.
“I have also begun drafting a formal resolution that I will submit in the City Council, urging the federal government to keep transportation funds at optimal levels and emphasize mass transit options,” he said. “By investing in mass transit, we are investing in a better, more efficient and green future.”