After an initial hiccup in which some student activists seemed to point fingers at the MTA for threatening to cut the Student MetroCards, the message has been on target lately. As I’ve repeated said, the MTA shouldn’t be expected to suffer financial losses to provide students with free transit. As they do throughout the state, the school districts and the city and the state should reimburse the MTA for the costs of student transit.
While politicians haven’t always recognized this reality, recently, a few groups of students have. On the one hand, the Working Families Party, not always known for its rational approach to transit investment, has worked with students and the City Council to deliver a petition to the mayor calling for increased city contributions to student transit. So far, 31 members of the council — but not Speaker Christine Quinn or Transportation Committee head James Vacca — have signed the petition, and that constitutes a council majority. Will the mayor respond?
Meanwhile, other groups have been lobbying Albany and New York’s representatives in Washington in the search for funding for student transit. Streetsfilms recently featured these lobbying efforts, and the video tells the tale of students who would be unable to attend the schools of their choosing without transit subsidies. The video is embedded below, and it will be a real failure of government if the money doesn’t materialize and these Student MetroCard cuts have to be approved by the MTA later this summer.