MTA board members — past and present — love their perksBy
Peter Kalikow may be, thankfully, gone from his post atop the MTA Board, but he’s still irking subway watchers in New York City.
According to a report in today’s Daily News, Kalikow is just one of many current and former MTA board members enjoying free E-ZPass tags for life at the expense of New York City taxpayers. But Kalikow’s case is extra special: He gets tags for eight of his 40 cars so he doesn’t have to switch out tags based on whatever it is the former public transit official is driving.
Pete Donohue reports:
The former chairman isn’t the only member of the MTA millionaires club who takes advantage of the freebie. As of early May, 21 board members held 33 tags, and MTA records show 37 former board members have 62 passes.
Board Vice Chairman David Mack, a real estate magnate, has six of the special E-ZPass tags, which are orange, not white, like those on windshields of paying customers.
Fellow board Vice Chairman Andrew Saul, director of a national chain of apparel stores, has four tags, according to records provided by the MTA under the Freedom of Information Act. Mack has 11 cars, his assistant said. Saul, as is his custom, didn’t return a reporter’s telephone call.
“When riders learn about these free all-you-can-drive passes, they become very skeptical about an MTA board that decides the cost of a MetroCard or how much subway service they get,” said Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign.
Of course, the MTA board members see nothing wrong with the perks. “Everybody on the board serves for nothing,” Kalikow said. “They do a lot of hard work and it’s a way of saying thank you.”
That’s quite the thank you note.
Now, I can understand giving perks to those people who have served the city in a public transportation capacity. Free MetroCards for life would encourage mass transit use. A singular E-ZPass per board member would seem reasonable if less desirable for the anti-car contingency.
But at a time when the MTA is searching for cash and the agency stands to benefit more from having fewer cars on the road, rewarding multi-millionaires with free E-ZPasses for life for more than one car per person seems a bit excessive to me.