Monday, December 8, 2008

MTA Rescue Plan

MTA map

There was big news out of Albany last Friday, as the Commission on Metropolitan Transportation Authority Financing came forward with its plan to rescue the Metropolitan Transit Authority and close its $1.2 billion budget gap for the next fiscal year. If the plan can pass, it will mean that proposed 27% fare and toll increases and service cuts will be lessened. The Ravitch Plan advocates for tolls on the Harlem and East River Bridges, plus a payroll tax on all the counties that utilize MTA. The good folks at Streetsblog have come up with a great summary of the important points here and here.

Not surprisingly, most of the politicans from the boroughs have already declared the tolls a non-starter. Even more not surprisingly, I think that this is the essential element of the plan. Let me just stress one point about all of this: how could the state reps. from Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx are fighting against this proposal? "“It’d be an extreme hardship to have to pay a toll every time,” said Assemblywoman Helene E. Weinstein, a Democrat from Brooklyn. “We’re talking about people going to work, people going to doctor’s appointments, elderly people.”"

Huh? Isn't it a much greater hardship for people to keep a car in NYC, from the cost of buying the car to paying for upkeep, insurance and gas? YES, IT IS! Here's a chance to fully fund the transit system, which is disprortionately used by the working classes, keep the cost stable and allow for future improvements. Yes, some areas are undeserved by public transit, but the solution would seem to be to fight for the increased bus service and special bus lanes that are part of the plan. I don't know if this plan is the solution to NYC's transit problems, but it would be nice to see more NYC-area politicians standing up for the transit system and alternatives to cars.

Read the Ravitch report for the details. Streetsblog has a nice roundup of the post-Ravitch reactions, including the New York Times endorsement. I'll have more on this as Governor Patterson and the Assembly take up an actual bill.

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