(The Center Square) – New Jersey’s House delegation has banded together to urge the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to keep the agency’s long-standing funding formula when it allocates $14.2 billion in funding to transit agencies in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
In a letter to FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez, the lawmakers say, “New York is attempting to buck long-standing conventional fund-sharing standards to short change its neighboring states.”
“The ongoing impasse described here threatens the availability of much-needed transit agency funding and could force reductions in NJ TRANSIT service,” the bipartisan group of lawmakers wrote.
“In light of this controversy – and a rapidly approaching grant application deadline – we urge the FTA to reaffirm the traditional apportionment model and inform New York that its unilateral approach is unacceptable,” they added. “By doing so, the FTA can resolve this controversy, thwart this overreach, and ensure critical federal assistance reaches transit agencies and their customers in a timely manner, consistent with congressional intent.”
NJ Transit’s fare revenue could fall by 66.9% – or $494.6 million – amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Rail ridership is down roughly 80%, while bus ridership has been reduced by half.
The New Jersey-New York-Connecticut region received more than $5.4 billion from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. According to the lawmakers, the three states divvied up the money using the federal formula, but New York officials subsequently sought to change how the money is allocated.
The change could cost NJ Transit upward of $600 million, reports suggest.
The region stands to receive $14.2 billion between the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act and the American Rescue Plan (ARP). Last week, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) said it expects to receive $10.5 billion in federal dollars from the two measures.
“We have ongoing discussions with New Jersey and Connecticut with respect to CRRSAA and American Rescue Plan funding,” MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye said in a news release. “… But the stakes for the MTA in that three-state discussion are hundreds of millions of dollars which is a material amount of funding at a time when we face substantial ongoing deficits.”