Who had March 24th in the “We’re going to delay service upgrades after the fare hike” pool? After talking up service additions across the board, the MTA is unsurprisingly postponing the planned upgrades due to lower-than-expected real estate tax revenues and a generally shaky economy.
William Neuman, writing on City Room, has more of the bad news:
Subway and bus riders are about to feel the impact of the slowing real estate market and Wall Street turbulence. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has postponed a $30 million package of service improvements that it had promised to riders as a way to sweeten the pill of a fare increase, which went into effect at the beginning of this month…
Officials had previously warned that the beefed-up service would only be approved if the authority produced healthy financial results in the first three months of the year.
But the authority revealed today that the money it receives from taxes on real estate transactions had fallen significantly in February and March.
Gary J. Dellaverson, the chief financial officer of the authority, called the economic outlook “gloomy” and used words like “frightening” and “dramatic” to describe the fall in real estate-related revenues.
The agency has taken in $21 million less than forecast, and officials are concerned that Wall Street layoffs could depress ridership and fare revenue. In my opinion, the latter is a bit of a red herring because even if a few firms layoff a few hundred employees, millions of other people are still riding the subways each day.
MTA skeptics won’t be surprised by this latest development. To them, it’s business as usual with the MTA, and so far, the agency hasn’t said when the upgrades — which were supposed to include more G service and later hours for B and W trains as well as more trains along the 1, 4 and 6 lines — will be enacted, if ever. Considering the state of the economy, we could be in a for a long wait.
Meanwhile, this news is bound to fuel the fires of the congestion pricing opponents. If the MTA can’t even make good on its fare hike service promises, will they really be able to take the revenues from congestion pricing to provide the service we need? This news cast a pall over what had been a pretty good year for the MTA. It is a sad day for New York City subway riders indeed.
New York City Transit token photo by flickr user photoshoparama.