2006-02-10 / Community

Pheffer Tackles MTA Bus Issues Weiner Demands COP$ For Budget

recently met with MTA Bus Company President Thomas Savage and MTA representative Joe Smith to discuss many of the issues now affecting local transit users.

Pictured: (left to right) Joe Smith, MTA Bus Company; Assemblywoman Pheffer; and Thomas Savage, President of the MTA Bus Company. Pictured: (left to right) Joe Smith, MTA Bus Company; Assemblywoman Pheffer; and Thomas Savage, President of the MTA Bus Company. As of January 30, 2006, the MTA Bus Company assumed responsibility for the local and express bus routes formerly operated by Green and Jamaica Buses, Inc.

Fare structures were changed to create a new, single citywide fare structure. These new fares include a free transfer to any subway, and local bus or express bus within a two-hour window. The Reduced-Fare Program for senior citizens and people with disabilities will continue on all bus routes.

New state-of-the-art buses are presently being added to all express bus improved buses will be replacing many of the previous buses used.

“I am expecting that the takeover by MTAwill translate to improvements in equipment and, therefore, a more reliable service,” state Pheffer.

Current routes and service will remain the same during this transition period.

“Improving the bus fleet should improve the amount of buses available to service the riders in our area. I will be working closely with the MTA to ensure improved bus service for our area,” concluded Pheffer.

Anyone needing additional information about Metrocard discounts options or the reduced-fare Metrocards can visit www.mta.info or call (212) 638-7622.

Representative Anthony Weiner, a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, has led a bipartisan coalition of 121 Members of Congress, calling on President Bush to fully fund the Community Oriented Policing Services (C.O.P.S.) program in his annual budget, which will be released on Monday. Last month, the President signed the Department of Justice Reauthorization Act, which included a provision promising $1 billion per year for four years for the C.O.P.S. program.

The C.O.P.S. program, which plays an integral role in nationwide efforts to combat crime and prevent terrorism, empowers the Department of Justice to award grants for state and local police departments to hire “terrorism cops.” To date, the program has helped local communities across the nation hire almost 120,000 additional police officers and acquire the equipment and technology they need to keep our streets safe.

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft has described C.O.P.S. as a “miraculous sort of success.” And a GAO study released last year stated, “...we estimated that C.O.P.S.-funded increases in sworn officers per capita were associated with declines in the rates of total index crimes, violent crimes, and property crimes.”

Weiner authored the provision in the law that will allow the NYPD to use C.O.P.S. funding to pay the salaries of local law enforcement officers that are serving federal homeland security needs including guarding against terrorism and collecting intelligence.

The program authorizes over $1 billion per year and will be reauthorized for four years, from 2006-2009, for a total of over $4 billion. An estimated $280 million will be authorized for New York City alone. With this funding the NYPD will be able to hire an additional 3,640 police officers.

For the first time, police agencies can use these dollars to fund “t-cops” or “terrorism cops”— police officers that specialize in thwarting terrorists. The old program only allowed police departments to hire officers patrolling the beat.

Each local law enforcement office now has additional flexibility to select how they wish to spend the money. Some may chose to fund additional personnel and others may purchase new equipment, such as radios, computers, etc.

Since its inception as part of the 1994 Clinton Crime Bill, the C.O.P.S. program has put 7,404 new police officers on the beat in New York City and over 118,000 cops in more than 12,000 communities nationwide.

C.O.P.S. grants were responsible for reducing crimes by about 200,000 to 225,000 incidents between 1998 and 2000, according to a GAO study. And in 1998, C.O.P.S. grants led to a 13% drop in violent crimes and an 8% decrease in crimes overall.

But Republicans did not reauthorize the program when it expired in 2000, and allowed all funding to dry Up.

“I stood with the President in the oval office last month, when he signed the C.O.P.S. program back into law for the first time since 2000,” said Rep. Weiner. “It is critical that the President live up to his pledge and fully fund the C.O.P. program at the level authorized by Congress.”

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