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Rockland Starts Looking at Ways of Providing Transit Services without the MTA

Six-month study to set up alternatives in case county gets state OK to cut ties with MTA.

Rockland County has started looking at what would be necessary to provide transportation services if the county is able to withdraw from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef said an estimated six-month analysis will outline steps that can be taken if state legislation is approved to cut ties with the MTA. Rockland officials have sought this approval because county taxpayers pay far more in taxes to the MTA than the county receives in transit services.

Vanderhoef said the county analysis will cost about $52,000 and is expected to be complete by Spring 2011. About 80 percent of the money for the student is coming from the Federal Transit Administration, about 10 percent from the state  Department of Transportation and other transportation dollars allocated to Rockland County.

Vanderhoef said no county tax funds will be used to pay for the analysis.

He said the study will..

  • Review and summarize previous analyses of the costs and benefits of MTA service to Rockland County, current operating agreements, and terms of current draft legislation that could authorize a withdrawal from the MTA.
  • Identify financial resources and mechanisms that could be adapted to continue current regional transit services to Rockland County.
  • Summarize operational and regulatory issues associated with withdrawal from the MTA.
  • Identify potential pros and cons associated with a withdrawal.

"This preliminary analysis will provide us with the basic information we would need in advance of potential authorizing legislation," said Vanderhoef. "Authorizing legislation, though, would outline the requirements and steps the county would actually need to take to consider a withdrawal."

Legislation on the MTA withdrawal has been drafted in both the state Senate and the state Assembly.

The county Planning Department is doing the analysis in conjunction with Cambridge Systematics Inc., the county's on-call transportation consultant.

Previous studies have shown Rockland could save money and improve service to local commuters by taking over administrative functions now performed by the MTA.

The MTA does not directly provide commuter rail service to Rockland. The agency, which runs the Metro-North Commuter Railroad, contracts with NJ Transit to provide rail service to Rockland on the Pascack Valley Line that connects Spring Valley to Hoboken, N.J., and the Bergen/Main Line that stops in Suffern.

Past threats to cut ties with the MTA have led to increased service for Rockland commuters. However, rail riders in Rockland has seen recent cuts to service and county officials say the Rockland continues to be shortchanged millions of dollars annually by the MTA.

County officials have also been angered by the creation of a new payroll tax that employers have been hit with to support the MTA. Counties within the MTA region, including Rockland, are waging court fights to overturn the payroll tax.

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