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Reconnect’s Virtual Trip to Albany – 2023

Last week, Reconnect Rochester went on a (virtual) trip to Albany to champion public transit and safe streets for Rochester residents (and all New Yorkers). We spent the day meeting with state legislators and their staff and having great conversations about what needs to be done to move towards our vision of a robust and equitable transportation network. We’re fortunate to have many allies in our State delegation to push for better multi-modal transportation across New York.

Reconnect team meeting with Assemblymember Harry Bronson’s Legislative Assistant, Aaron Pilgrim

We’d like to shout out Reconnect Rochester Board members Victor Sanchez, Bill Collins, Jason Partyka, Erick Stephens and John Lam for devoting their time to the effort, and a huge thank you to all the legislative offices who took the time to meet with us: Assemblymembers Demond Meeks, Harry Bronson, Jennifer Lunsford, Sarah Clark, Josh Jensen, and William Magnarelli, and Senators Samra Brouk, Jeremy Cooney, and Tim Kennedy. Check out more screenshots from the day!

In the coming months we will continue to advocate at the state level for this crucial legislation to be passed this year. Wondering how you can help? Check out our platform and the links below to find out how you can help us advocate for better transit and safer streets for all! 

New York Public Transit Association
NYS S.A.F.E. Streets Act Climate, Jobs & Justice Package

New York State 2023-24 Transportation Priorities

Public Transit:

Public transportation is a vital service for residents of our region, especially for Rochester. Twenty-six percent of households in Rochester do not have access to a car. They rely on public transportation to access jobs and vital services. While increases to upstate transit systems last year were helpful, many agencies like RTS still need robust, long-term funding to grow and sustain our system. Please consider supporting the following budget priorities:

  1. Develop a statewide funding package that provides additional and sustainable dedicated revenue into the future to address growing structural operating deficits for all upstate and downstate transit systems. There is an immediate need in FY 2023-24 to grow STOA funding by $134 million for Upstate systems.
  2. Fully fund the 2nd year of the Non-MTA 5-Year Transit Capital Program at $159.5 million.
  3. Continue the STOA program hold-harmless provision to avoid reductions in operating aid to smaller transit systems, as ridership has not returned to pre-pandemic levels.
  4. Release the $60 million in currently available Non-MTA capital appropriations for electric vehicles and infrastructure to allow projects to move forward.

Bicycle and Pedestrian (Active Transportation):

Pedestrian and cyclist injuries and fatalities are on the rise. Reconnect Rochester is working with the NYS Safe Streets Coalition to prioritize legislation to address this silent epidemic. Consider sponsoring or co sponsoring the S.A.F.E. Streets Act which includes the following legislation:

  1. Complete Streets Application (S100/A3180) – Expands the state’s current complete street design principles policy to include all state, county and local transportation projects that are undertaken by the DOT or receive federal, state or both federal and state funding.
  2. Complete Streets Maintenance (S2714/A1280) – Includes, when possible, complete street design features in resurfacing, maintenance and pavement recycling projects and further enables safe access to public roads for all users.
  3. Vehicle Safety Standards (S1952/A4057) – Mandates standards in new vehicles including intelligent speed assistance and other features.
  4. Crash Victims Bill of Rights (A1901) – Guarantees rights & a voice for crash victims and their loved ones in legal proceedings
  5. Sammy’s Law (S2422) – Allows for lower life-saving speed limits in NYC
  6. Safe Passage (S1724/A4346) – Requires that drivers pass bicyclists at a safe distance of min. 3 feet.

In addition to the S.A.F.E. Streets Act package, these are additional bills related to bicyclists that we would encourage you to sponsor or co-sponsor:

  1. Idaho Stop Law (S2643/A3986) – Allows cyclists to treat a stop sign as a yield sign, and a red light as a stop sign.
  2. Ebike Rebate (S314/A275) – Directs the New York state energy and development authority to establish a ride clean rebate program for electric assist bicycles and electric scooters.
  3. Ebike Access (S1123/A2627) – Repeal certain provisions of the vehicle and traffic law and would allow ebikes to be ridden anywhere regular bikes can.

Train and Long-Distance Bus:

Inter-city bus and train passengers tend to be lower income and people of color. They deserve equitable funding for their long-distance transportation that is comparable to the investments made in airline travel. Consider including funding for a new long distance bus terminal (Phase II of the Intermodal Station) in next year’s NYS budget or when Federal funding becomes available.

EV Carsharing:

Nonprofit carshares like Floshare, an electric carshare system in the City of Rochester, provide a valuable service to many in our community who lack access to public transportation or cannot afford to own a personal vehicle which is about a quarter of Rochester households who don’t have access to a vehicle. Many people rely on carshare systems like Floshare to access basic necessities like getting groceries or going to medical appointments. Currently, the most reliable and economical way for nonprofits in New York to acquire auto insurance is through an RRG or a Risk Retention Group. Unfortunately, the Department of Financial Services disallows Risk Retention Groups to insure vehicles in the state which prevents many nonprofit carshares from operating due to the inability to either find insurance or because of the high cost of insurance. We would like to see support for a regulatory change to allow Risk Retention Groups (RRGs) to write auto insurance for carshare nonprofits in New York State, thereby removing a costly barrier to nonprofit carshare operations.

All Modes: 

Please support the Climate, Jobs & Justice package, which includes the following:

  1. Climate and Community Protection Fund to implement the NY Climate Act
  2. Build Public Renewables Act (S4134/A279)
  3. Just Energy Transition Act (S2935/A9881)

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