As the whispers grow louder that Gov. Andrew Cuomo will nominate former Giuliani confidante Joseph Lhota as the next MTA head, former authority leaders and transit advocates are weighing on the challenges facing Jay Walder’s replacement. Yesterday, we heard from Gene Russianoff, and today, Richard Ravitch chimes in. In an interview with New York 1, he warned that the next MTA head will face a tough job environment.
With Albany reluctant to act sensible measures designed to identify sources of transit revenue and protect MTA funding, the MTA and person leading it must become a politician willing to ask tough questions, Ravitch said. “You have to persuade a lot of people to spend a lot of money, whether they are taxpayers or whether they are transit riders,” said Ravitch. To maintain and grow the system, to provide better service and cleanear subways, as everyone wants, it’s going to cost money.
To find the dollars, Ravitch continued to pound the drum he’s been beating since he released his report urging sensible funding mechanisms for the MTA: toll the free East River bridges. Keeping these bridges free while other crossings aren’t harms the city’s economy by creating congestion and the environment. Ultimately, fare hikes every two years are inevitable as the MTA’s debt payments escalate, but until Albany stops forcing the MTA to pay for its capital program with credit card, that’s the price we all have to pay.