As the TWU and MTA continue to operate without a contract, authority chairman Joseph Lhota took aim at benefits costs yesterday during a hearing with the New York State Senate Transportation Committee. As Pete Donohue recounts, Lhota noted that these costs are “spiral[ling] out of control.” He said, “In fact, but for mandated increases in pension and health care costs, we would not need the 2013 fare increase,” Lhota said.
In response, TWU President John Samuelsen blamed the MTA’s “mismanagement of construction projects,” but mismanagement here isn’t the right word. Perhaps mis-funding is as debt costs have increased the MTA’s operations obligations to the detriment of investment in subway service. Either way the fares are going up 7.5 percent next year.
The truth of course is in the middle. The MTA has turned into an organization funding pension and health care costs for retired workers for years, and these obligations have exerted a tremendous pressure on the operating budget. No one in Albany seems to willing to confront this issue however and the costs continue to mount.