New funds for non-MTA agencies and pursuit of a Interborough Express light-rail option among Gov. Hochul’s 2023 transit commitments

Jan. 11, 2023
The governor’s State of the State unveiled a new Innovative Mobility initiative, expanded city ticket and advanced the light-rail option of the Interborough Express to connect Brooklyn and Queens to subway lines and LIRR.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plan for transit in 2023 includes new funding to expand service at non-Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) agencies, expanding a regional ticket option and advancing a light-rail option to improve transit options for Brooklyn and Queens residents as part of the Interborough Express.

“I am committed to making our transit more accessible, affordable and safe,” Gov. Hochul said. “These actions will build on our successes and broaden access to transit resources for New Yorkers.”

The governor is required to deliver a State of the State to the New York Legislature annually; it precedes the governor’s budget for the year and outlines priorities.

Funding for new service and an expanded ticket option

The proposed Innovative Mobility Initiative will provide non-MTA transit authorities with $10 million in funds to expand service. The initiative is designed to create new transit alternatives or technological products to support riders facing barriers to traditional transit. The state’s seven largest non-MTA transit systems will be allocated $1 million each, and smaller systems will be eligible for $3 million in competitive funding through the five-year pilot. The funds can be used to establish and expand microtransit and paratransit service, purchase paratransit vehicles and new technology for app-enabled local travel or fare payment or to match federally provided funds up to 20 percent.

In addition to funding new service options outside of the greater New York City region, the governor said the MTA City Ticket would be expanded for use during peak hours “for a modest premium.” The City Ticket currently allows a flat-fare option to travel on Metro-North Railroad or Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) to the city during off-peak hours. The governor says peak hour rail travel is “prohibitively expensive” and can cost as much as $10.75. The expanded City Ticket is expected to support more than 10,000 average weekday trips.

Interborough Express advances as light-rail project

The Interborough Express (IBX), a proposal to use existing rail right-of-way to connect residents in Brooklyn and Queens to multiple subway lines, and LIRR will move forward as a light-rail project. The rail line is currently used by freight trains and has not hosted passenger traffic in nearly 100 years.

Following a planning study on the IBX project, MTA concluded a light-rail option best supports service at the lowest cost. The study determined up to 115,000 daily weekday riders would use the 14-mile line and travel times could be reduced by up to 30 minutes each way.

The governor’s office explained the IBX project would be a major advance for equity in the transit system. Seven out of 10 people served will be people of color, approximately one-half will come from households with no cars and approximately one-third will be living in households at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Line.

“Moving forward with light rail for the Interborough Express means better access to jobs, education and economic opportunities for some 900,000 New Yorkers in Queens and Brooklyn,” said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “I want to thank Gov. Hochul for her leadership on this exciting project and look forward to working with stakeholders and local communities to move the proposed project forward.”

What do rider’s want? Frequent service

The Riders Alliance, which is a New York City-based advocacy group, called for the governor to include funding in her 2023 Executive Budget to support six-minute bus and train service.

 "Securing the future of the MTA -- and the city and state that rely on it -- demands a bold, positive vision from New York's governor, who controls the system. Funding for more frequent subway and bus service in the governor's upcoming executive budget will be essential to providing a sound fiscal footing for public transit,” said Riders Alliance Executive Director Betsy Plum. “Running buses and trains at least every six minutes will draw riders, improve safety and advance equity and resilience for transit's and New York's future.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin.
Lirr Patrick Cashin