Governor Eliot Spitzer and United States Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff today announced $153.3 million in federal transit funding for New York State, a 56 percent increase in funding from 2007 levels. The funding this year is provided to New York by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) as part of the federal Transit Security Grant Program.
In 2007, New York received $98.2 million in transit grant funding, or roughly 41 percent of the national share of such funding. The $153.3 million announced today, represents about 45 percent of the national total.
Last year, the Greater New York/New Jersey/Connecticut Regional Transit Working Group, a multi-agency team comprised of representatives from the tri-state region's transit systems, reached consensus agreement on spending priorities that will help to expand training and exercise opportunities for law enforcement personnel, purchase and install security cameras and state-of-the-art bomb detection technologies, and increase the number of K-9 dog teams. This group will continue its collaboration to set funding priorities and assess regional transit security needs.
"Since September 11th, New York State has resolutely sought sufficient funding to help us carry out the critical task of securing our homeland," said Governor Spitzer. "Secretary Chertoff recognizes that New York has done all that it can to support the regionalized funding approach that the Department of Homeland Security has long encouraged. This impressive funding statement comes as a result of the dedicated work of the Greater New York/New Jersey/Connecticut Regional Transit Working Group and I want to thank the group for their tireless efforts to prioritize homeland security investments at the state and local level."
The Department of Homeland Security also announced today that in addition to New York City and Buffalo, the cities of Syracuse, Rochester, and the Albany area will now be eligible to receive homeland security funding under the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) program. This money will help enhance local governments' ability to prepare for and respond to threats or incidents of terrorism. Governor Spitzer met last year with Secretary Chertoff and expressed the need to extend UASI eligibility to additional Upstate cities.
Deputy Secretary Michael Balboni said: "New York State has worked hard to build partnerships at every level of government. This collaboration makes our security efforts more effective and, in the context of mass transit, makes the public that much safer. The efforts of the Regional Transit Working Group should be commended. Our consensus-based process will make New York's transit system safer for all commuters."
Brigadier General F. David Sheppard, the State's Director of Homeland Security said: "I want to thank Secretary Chertoff for this impressive grant award. We all know that the pool of available federal dollars is getting smaller. This award represents a risk-based approach that also recognizes the manner in which New York State has worked in partnership with mass transit stakeholders to prioritize security objectives and to pursue those objectives as part of a coordinated state homeland security strategy."
The Greater New York/New Jersey/Connecticut Regional Transit Working Group is composed of federal, state, county, city and public authority partners and was organized in 2005, to help reach consensus on the allocation of homeland security dollars for mass transit purposes in the Metropolitan New York Region. The group is comprised of representatives of the New York State Office of Homeland Security, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, PATH, New York City DOT, the States of Connecticut and New Jersey, Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, and Westchester County. In 2007, at the direction of Governor Spitzer, TSA, the FBI and the NYPD, were added to the group to provide guidance and assistance.