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Old Posted Oct 16, 2008, 11:25 PM
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10/16/2008 10:47 AM

Transit Advocates To Candidates: "Get America Moving Again"
By: Bobby Cuza

Barack Obama and John McCain have not talked a lot about transit issues on their race to the White House, but a group of local officials and advocates is trying to change that. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

"Our message is clear to the presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama: invest in transit and transportation and get America moving again," said Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign.

John McCain has pushed for alternative fuels and cleaner car technology, but not mass transit. Barack Obama has talked about strengthening transportation systems, even starting an infrastructure investment program.

But no matter which candidate you prefer, transit has not been a hot topic on the campaign trail.

However, with the economy crumbling, transit advocates say there's no better time to invest in transportation infrastructure, a move they argue could create jobs and jump start the economy.

"If we do it right, it will help us get out of the very deep recession we're going into more quickly," said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. "It will put hundreds of thousands or millions of people to work. It will make us more competitive. It will help revive our economy."

There are also a number of specific Metropolitan Transportation Authority projects now under construction that are dependent on federal funding – among them, East Side Access, the plan to bring the Long Island Rail Road trains to Grand Central Terminal, and the Second Avenue Subway.

"The Second Avenue subway will relieve crowding on the most overcrowded subway in the country, the Lexington Avenue line," said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. "Believe me, there's a limit to how many people you can stuff into one subway car."

It's not just the expansion projects at risk. MTA officials, currently facing massive budget deficits, say without more government funding, day-to-day service may suffer as well.

"We may not be able to prevent a return to that transit decay: the graffiti, the subway breakdowns that was part and parcel of the 1970s and 1980s, without Washington," warned MTA Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Elliot "Lee" Sander.

And that, officials say, is something New York cannot afford.

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