Sen. Schumer fights for funds to improve mass transit

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Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is fighting for funds to help make the commute for Westchester and lower Hudson Valley residents smoother.

The funds the senator is fighting for would come from President-elect Barack Obama?s proposed economic stimulus package. Schumer wants $20 billion dedicated to mass transit improvements, with $4 billion going to New York alone. The money would also help aid Metro-North projects in danger because of MTA budget cuts.

Schumer, along with Congressman John Hall, is also pushing to help commuters save a few dollars. To do this, he is pushing for operating subsidiaries, which could be used by the MTA and other transit systems to cover operating costs and help keep commuter fares down.

If Obama?s stimulus package goes through, it could mean hundreds of millions of dollars for the MTA to improve service in Westchester. The funding would be aimed at shovel-ready projects, or projects that could be started within 90 days. Some of such projects include power substation improvements on the Hudson and Harlem lines and improved station access and parking.

Most commuters seem to be most concerned with their own bottom lines. ?The fares are too high, off peak and peak you pay $10 from White Plains to the city express, this is a lot,? Hafez Ikhnaies, a Brooklyn resident, says.

White Plains resident Jeannette Waters tries to look on the bright side of things. ?It is a little expensive, but they?re usually always on time,? she says. ?They actually have bathrooms on the trains, and they?re pretty clean.?

One project that is not included in the new stimulus plan is the new $16 billion Tappan Zee Bridge, because it?s not far enough along in the planning stages.

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