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Public transit supporters decry 'crumbling system,' seek more funding

Thomas O'Neil-White

Public transit advocates spoke out about the need for the Erie County Legislature to put money being considered for road and bridge work this year, towards a public transit system they say is crumbling.

Nearly $14 million from Transfer Tax revenue is being considered for appropriation by the legislature for the road and bridge work. At a public hearing Wednesday on the proposed appropriation, Citizens for Regional Transit President Douglas Funke said funding for public transit is critical but fears more cutbacks may be forthcoming as ridership continues to dwindle during the pandemic.

“Whatever there is it won’t be enough,” he said about the possibility of some of the revenue going towards public transportation. “We need a lot of money. They’re always cutting corners, they’re always cutting back. We don’t have the frequency of buses in Buffalo and Niagara, other cities as well. It’s not adequate to provide good service.”

Funke is hopeful more funding will come from the state and even more from President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, which proposes doubling federal funding for mass transit.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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