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Express Train to NY Economic Recovery?

October 19, 2011

NEW YORK - The light at the end of New York's dark economic tunnel might be a train - carrying recovery in the form of mass transit manufacturing in New York factories, according to one group of experts.

The report, assembled by union strategists and economic-policy analysts, calls for replacing some of a decade's worth of lost manufacturing jobs by investing in building and repairing rail and subway cars and buses. That way, says report co-author Brian Lombardozzi, the people who ride mass transit can be the people making it.

"The more transit expands, the more the equipment is used and needs to be replaced and repaired. The more we source the components for that and those vehicles in New York, the more job-creation potential is there to put New Yorkers to work."

The study points out "green" benefits as well because more mass transit means less car use.

Standing in the way, the experts say, is an austerity frame of mind in Washington, where there may be reluctance to invest the federal funds - along with state support - for a mass-transit manufacturing renaissance.

James Parrott, another report co-author, says New York has the largest base of transit-related manufacturing companies in the United States, with many factories upstate.

"If we're able to increase investments in mass transit and then build that equipment in the United States, build it in New York state, it will certainly result in a more energy-efficient and greener economy overall."

In addition to rail and subway car plants owned upstate by Alstom, a French company, Lombardozzi says investments could be made in idle manufacturing space in places such as the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

"There actually needs to be some more tax dollars being invested in the transportation system to meet the current demand to move people around, and to upgrade the equipment. What better way to spend those tax dollars than in creating jobs in the U.S. and in New York in manufacturing the transit equipment, be they buses or the rails, or the components that go into these things."

Manufacturing jobs tend to be good jobs, the report says, with decent wages and benefits.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY