Mar
31

Congestion pricing approved for NYC as Albany passes Cuomo’s MTA ‘reform’ package

By · Published in 2019

The New Yorker featured a cover last week by Bruce McCall that seemed to portend this weekend’s approval of congestion pricing. (Via The New Yorker)

Revenue from traffic fee will bolster MTA capital spending

More than a decade after a backroom deal in Albany shelved Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing, New York City will finally be able to price private automobile access to Manhattan south of 60th Street as the Senate and Assembly passed a budget early Sunday morning that includes authorization for congestion pricing to fund the MTA. The vote makes New York City the first in the nation to implement traffic pricing, and the move should help clear up Manhattan’s congested streets while funding Andy Byford’s Fast Forward plan to modernize the subway system.

According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who does deserve credit in pushing this plan through, the congestion pricing revenue will allow the MTA to bond out $15 billion for its capital plan, and the money will be supplemented by a mansion tax on the sale of properties at $25 million or more and an internet sales tax. “This budget,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement, “delivers on our promise to develop sustainable funding for the MTA and addresses critical transportation needs throughout the state.”

MTA officials too sang its praises. Pat Foye, current agency president and soon-to-be chairman, thanked Albany for supporting the traffic fee. “Today will long be viewed as a historic day for the transit system, the environment and the livability of the New York region. Central Business District Tolling is a transformative initiative that will improve our transit system, reduce air pollution, increase mobility, bolster the economy and, put simply, better the lives of all New Yorkers,” he said. “With the leadership of Governor Cuomo, who resurrected this plan and led the way to making it a reality, New York is taking a critical step towards providing MTA customers with the modern, reliable, robust system they want and deserve, while creating tens of thousands of jobs across the entire state.”

Transit advocates have been working on a congestion pricing push for months and took a deserved celebratory lap on Sunday. “This state budget is great news for subway and bus riders who have been advocating for fair and sustainable sources of funding to fix our ailing transit systems. The billions of dollars raised through congestion pricing and other new revenue sources will help modernize the MTA with new train signals, new subway cars, and faster and more reliable bus service,” John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance, said. “In the coming months, we look forward to working with the TBTA and the new Traffic Mobility Review Board to ensure that the final congestion pricing plan is is robust and comprehensive, and that new funding translates into a faster and more reliable commute for millions of daily riders.”

Nick Sifuentes, Executive Director of Tri-State Transportation Campaign, echoed those sentiments: “At long last, we’ll start to get our city moving again and make both crippling traffic congestion and constant subway breakdowns a thing of the past.

Yet, while advocates have worked tirelessly to push this weekend’s approval across the finish line, the hard work has only just begun as the devil will be in the details. The budget legislation that approved congestion pricing did not provide details of the plan. Rather, it mandates the aforementioned Traffic Mobility Review Board, a new six-member board under the auspices of the Tri-Borough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, develop the pricing plan, and already politicians are angling for exemptions and carve-outs that would water down the effectiveness of it all.

Mayor Bill de Blasio conditioned his approval, infuriatingly enough, on the amorphous guarantee that the pricing plan would include carve-outs. In press appearances and conversations with Brian Lehrer, the mayor has constantly pushed for the idea of exemptions for various people he feels must drive into Manhattan, and while access to the East Side hospitals should be a consideration, congestion pricing will live or die on the limited scope of the carve-outs and the rigorousness with which they are enforced.

In this age of parking placard corruption, spearheaded by lax NYPD enforcement and constant NYPD abuse, though, anyone questioning de Blasio’s blind adherence to carve-outs is right to do so. After all, far more New Yorkers heading to doctors in Manhattan take transit than drive, a favorite de Blasio talking point. Still, the arrival of congestion pricing in New York City should be a celebrated one among transit enthusiasts and urbanists alike. (I’ve written at length as to why congestion pricing is a progressive solution to NYC’s transportation woes, and I urge you to revisit my Curbed piece from last August.)

Yet, despite this great victory, I too share some of the reticence recently expressed by Nicole Gelinas in The Post over the haste and lack of details in the current congestion pricing push. As she wrote, the MTA has never provided a definite cost-breakdown for all elements of the Fast Forward plan, and the state hasn’t actually given the MTA most of the $8 billion Cuomo committed a few years ago. “As it is, the MTA struggles to spend the money it already has when it comes to long-term physical assets, she noted. “The MTA is nearing the end of a regular five-year infrastructure-upgrade program, money to be invested in projects between 2015 and 2019, and to cost $33.3 billion. But it only has spent $10.9 billion of that money.”

I’ve expressed concerns about the overall framing of this congestion pricing push and have cautioned against treating congestion pricing as a solution to traffic and transit together. We need congestion pricing. It will help clear up our roads, but it must come with a pre-implementation guarantee of additional transit service in areas without robust subway access. I worry that treating it as a fix-all for transit funding and for the subways is overpromising on much needed benefits. Furthermore, as Gelinas pointed out on Sunday, the Traffic Mobility Review Board seems primed to hand over significant control of local New York City streets to suburban legislatures, a potentially damaging mistake that could harm the successful of comprehensive congestion pricing.

Despite this skepticism, though, I’ve spoken with numerous advocates who have urged me and others to celebrate this win, and environmental groups and transit advocates alike are looking forward to clearing the city streets. Plus, the budget finally includes a dedicated lockbox that Cuomo claims he will enforce to “ensure that 100% of this revenue goes to the MTA capital budget and prohibits the use of these revenues for non-capital spending.” (Whether this is an ultimate good remains to be seen. Some congestion pricing revenue should go to increased operations spending to ensure the transit system can withstand the boost in ridership a properly crafted traffic pricing plan should create.)

Other MTA reforms raise eyebrows

But — and when it comes to Andrew Cuomo and transit, there’s always a “but” involved — the legislature also passed Cuomo’s (and de Blasio’s) MTA faux-reform package. I wrote at length about this reform package a few weeks ago when it was first announced, and it’s worth revising the details here. Some of the key reforms are as follows:

  • An MTA reorganization plan issued by the agency by June, which is off to an auspicious start as the MTA recently gave away the deal to a contractor in a no-bid $2 million contract.
  • A long-awaited forensic audit and efficiency review.
  • The Cornell and Columbia professors who have limited expertise in MTA capital construction will review major projects.
  • A 20-year capital needs assessment beginning in 2023. For what it’s worth, the MTA usually issued a 20-year needs proposal every five years to coincide with the capital budget, but we have yet to see one this year.
  • Increasing the competitive procurement threshold to $1 million (from $100,000) to speed up the contracting process.
  • MTA Board appointees that are coterminous with the tenure of the official appointing the board member, a move that favors the term limit-free governor over the term-limited mayor.
  • A requirement that any Capital Program Review Board member who does not approve of the MTA capital plan issue a written explanation for their veto, and provide the MTA the opportunity to respond and revise the plan so the member may withdraw their veto.

All told, these measures give the governor, who already controls the MTA even more power and siphons more say in the future of its transit network away from New York City. If anything, this should lead to more dialogue around Corey Johnson’s proposal to bring the subways and buses back under city control, a topic I plan to revisit soon.)

Ands I mentioned, good governance groups are not happy with these proposals. Reinvent Albany dissected the plan in February and aired additional criticism over the weekend after the MTA reforms were essentially approved, debate-free, during a late-night budgeting session.

That’s an inauspicious start for MTA reform if ever there was one, and the good governance group wasn’t the one party voicing its concerns. Allen Cappelli, a former MTA Board member who was effectively pushed out over disagreements with the governor, told The Post, doing away with independent staggered appointments was “the wrong thing to do.” Cappelli added, “Cuomo has been the problem, not the solution. He’s been reluctant to fund the MTA properly. He’s deflecting.”

Cuomo loyalist named to head MTA; donor picked for Board

And just how is Cuomo exercising this new control? Well, we caught a glimpse of it late last week when he nominated Pat Foye to head the MTA and named a big-time donor to the board. Foye’s nomination came after Joe Lhota left abruptly last fall, and it’s a very Andrew Cuomo pick. Foye worked for Cuomo in 2011, served as Executive Director of the Port Authority (and president of the PATH train) from 2011 to 2017 and has been President of the MTA — a new position — since August 2017. He had the following to say about being named Chairman:

“As a lifelong rider – and a daily customer – of the MTA, I can think of no higher honor or more important challenge than serving at the helm of an agency that connects millions of people each day to their jobs, schools, families, and friends. There is no question that we have a great deal of work ahead of us, to bring truly innovative and meaningful reform to the agency and provide the service and system New Yorkers deserve.

I want to thank Governor Cuomo for this honor and opportunity. I have been honored to serve the Governor and the people of the State of New York. I know the new leadership team we have in place is up to this challenge, and I want to thank my colleagues for their hard work and commitment to making the MTA a more efficient and effective place. I especially want to thank our union member partners, who work tirelessly every day to keep this region moving. And I’m grateful to both Acting Chair Fernando Ferrer and our former Chairman Joe Lhota for their past guidance and leadership. I look forward to working with our customers, elected officials, the MTA Board and advocates as we continue to improve and build a transit system that truly works for all New Yorkers.”

On its own, Foye’s appointment isn’t a bad one, but it’s a very inside-the-box, Cuomo-loyalist approach to the MTA. Foye knows who he answers to, and he knows what Cuomo wants. He likely will give Byford enough leeway to implement the most substantive pieces of the Fast Forward plan, but this is an appointment designed to indicate to Byford and others inside the agency that Cuomo is very much in control. As Reinvent Albany’s John Kaehny said to Politco New York, “He’s an experienced technocrat and knows the transportation lay of the land and he’s trusted by the governor and he’s been reasonably accessible to the public, or certainly was when he was at the Port Authority. I would say it’s the conservative choice and the expected choice.”

New names fill MTA Board

Cuomo’s other MTA Board appointments are in a similar vein. Cuomo named Haeda B. Mihaltses, currently the Mets’ Vice President of External Affairs, to the Board. Mihaltses spent 12 years in the Bloomberg administration and worked for Peter Vallone before that. She replaces Peter Ward, a 2016 Cuomo appointee, and will be a fine Board member. But I chuckled at another Cuomo appointee named last week.

The governor tabbed Michael Lynton, the one-time CEO of Sony Entertainment, to the Board as well. While you would never know it from the governor’s press release, Lynton earned headlines a few years back during the Sony email leak when his extensive fundraising ties to the governor were laid bare for the public to see. We know full well where Lynton’s sympathies lie, and we can see exactly how Cuomo uses his own people to enhance and underscore his control of the MTA. (Lynton replaces Charles Moerdler, an eight-year board vet who was nominated by David Paterson in 2010 and whose appointment had expired in 2016. Moerdler had recently raised eyebrows with his aggressive calls to criminalize all subway and bus fare evasion.)

Also joining the MTA Board will be a new representative from Suffolk County as holdover Mitch Pally has been replaced by Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association. Pally was a 14-year vet whose last term expired in 2016 as well and had pushed the MTA to avoid its upcoming fare hike. David Mack and and Sarah Feinberg, a Federal Railroad Administration official during President Obama’s tenure, joined the Board in recent weeks as well. Mack, who has a history with Cuomo and the MTA. fills Nassau County’s empty seat while Feinberg replaces Schott Rechler. Rhonda Herman was named as Westchester County’s rep which may bounce Andrew Saul from the Board. With the recent departure of Carl Weisbrod, I believe that gives the mayor the chance to suggest a new board member as well.

Ultimately, this was a good week for New York City and a good week for MTA funding. We wasted a decade spinning our wheels on congestion pricing and still have to push through a properly limited plan to ensure it isn’t captured by special interests, but New York City’s streets will finally be priced. Congestion pricing can only improve from here. Where things stand with MTA reform and governance is an open question. Gov. Andre Cuomo, barely a friend of transit, continues to assert his control, as is his right, but it seems unlikely his plans will actually fix the MTA or its inefficient cost and construction problems. For that, we may just need a better governor, a more forceful mayor and a new way to approach transit governance that does not rely so heavily on loyalists and donors.



19 Responses to “Congestion pricing approved for NYC as Albany passes Cuomo’s MTA ‘reform’ package”

  1. Patrick says:

    I agree a good week overall for the MTA and NYC streets overall, but doubling down on the MTA’s growing debt problem seems liable to cause trouble in the long term… Congestion charging and the two new dedicated taxes are only generating enough cash to support $25 billion in new bonds, which will increase the MTA’s debt burden by nearly 60% if fully exercised.

    That puts the MTA in a very precarious place in the event there’s any future threat to revenue (either due to ridership loss, another financial crisis, or if the congestion charge work too well at discouraging driving), since the MTA has to satisfy its debt service costs before it can spend a cent on running transit….

  2. Larry Penner says:

    The Metropolitan Transportation Authority receives $1.4 billion in annual assistance from various Federal Transit Administration formula funding grant programs. For decades, the MTA has distributed these dollars from Washington via a formula to operating agencies. They have been split between NYC Transit (75%) Long Island Rail Road (12.5%) and Metro North Rail Road (12.5%). It is interesting that this formula for federal assistance has been accepted as fair. A similar formula of 80% for NYC Transit, 10% Long Island Rail Road and 10% Metro North Rail Road was adopted for distribution of future Congestion Pricing Revenue. (Perhaps a great way to obtain support of suburban State Assembly, State Senate and County Executives who use LIRR & Metro North) Remember a legal challenge to the non resident commuter tax resulted in its demise. Don’t be surprised when legal challenges are submitted against Congestion Pricing. Who knows if it will actually be implemented by 2021. Is MTA Bus included under the 80% for NYC Transit? In 2005, NYC transferred management of the seven private franchised bus operators (Command Bus, Green Lines, Jamaica Bus, Triboro Coach, Queens Surface, NY Bus and Liberty Lines Bronx Express) to the MTA. The MTA subsequently created MTA Bus, which is a separate from NYC Transit Bus. Why wasn’t any future Congrestion Pricing revenue shared with suburban bus operators such as Nassau Inter County Express, Suffolk County Transit, Westchester Bee Line, Dutchess County Loop and Putnam County bus systems?. Distribution of this assistance to bus operators could follow the New York State Transportation Operating Assistance formula.

    Promised savings by consolidation of Civil Rights, Legal, Procurement and other LIRR/Metro North departments have been periodically discussed and promised for decades by different generations of MTA management and elected officials. This will never happen due to work rules, seniority and contracts between different labor unions representing employees at LIRR and Metro North. The same applies to anticipated savings by contracting out more work to the private sector.

    Similar promises were made when MTA Bus was created in 2005. The operational savings for taxpayers never appeared. Instead the $100 million per year New York City subsidy formerly provided to the private bus operators have grown to over $200 million for MTA Bus. The private bus company owners continue earning several million per year from MTA Bus for leasing their facilities. Potential operational savings by consolidation of duplicative routes between New York City Transit Bus and MTA Bus never took place. The same was true for reducing deadheading costs by reassigning bus routes between MTA Bus and NYC Transit Bus to closer garages for reduction of operating costs. Work rules, seniority and contracts between different labor unions representing employees at NYC Transit Bus and MTA Bus have prevented any changes to the status quo. .

    Project cost containment along with fast tracking procurements and contract change orders for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been periodically discussed and promised for decades by different generations of MTA management and elected officials. It is sometimes is easier said than done due to other significant obstacles.

    MTA union work rules sometimes prevent contracting out work to the private sector. Third party private contractors require MTA NYC Transit, Long Island and Metro North Rail Roads agency Force Account (their own employees) to provide both supervision and protection. when they work on or adjacent to active right of way track. There sometimes are excessive numbers of MTA supervisory or employees assigned, adding to costs.

    The MTA receives $1.4 billion each year from the Federal Transit. “Buy America” requirements are one of many requirements for receipt of federal funding. This impacts the MTA’s ability get the best bang for the buck, when spending $7 billion in direct federal formula grant funds, potentially several billion more in competitive discretionary, New Starts and Hurricane Sandy relief and resiliency dollars under the MTA $32 billion 2015 – 2019 Five Year Capital Program. The MTA has its own “Arts in Transit” 1% expenditure requirement. Governor Cuomo has his own “New York Buy America Act” as well.

    FTA “Buy America” requirements continue to play a role in the ability of the MTA to both speed up capital projects and contain cost growth. Second is the Davis Bacon requirement of paying prevailing wages. Third is US Cargo preference requirement for private companies to use only American vessels when shipping product from abroad. Finally, prime contractors sometimes have problems finding qualified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) sub contractors with specialized skills to meet required federal and state civil rights goals.

    Is the FTA in a position to waive any of these requirements for transit projects? Anyone in the transit industry knows that compliance with federal Buy America rules and regulations frequently adds both time and cost to a project. Both the East Side Access to Grand Central Terminal and the Second Avenue subway are good examples of how federal requirements add to costs. You can count on one hand the number of Buy America waivers issued by FTA to transit agencies in recent years.

    Will Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature use Congestion Pricing revenue as a back door method to reduce previously planned anticipated future contributions to the upcoming MTA 2020 – 2024 Five Year?

    Promised “forensic audit” of the MTA is a waste of time and money. How many internal MTA, MTA OIG, State Comptroller, City Comptroller, NYC Office of Management and Budget, Federal Transit Administration OIG and other audits have come and gone. What about numerous newspaper investigative reports on waste, fraud or abuse? Another audit will not result in any significant changes.

    (Larry Penner is a transportation historian, advocate and writer who previously worked 31 years for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for grants supporting billions in capital projects and programs on behalf of the MTA, NYC Transit, LIRR & Metro North, MTA Bus, NYC DOT & other NY transit agencies).

  3. Larry Penner says:

    Perhaps Governor Andrew Cuomo could have found a better candidate than former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Executive Director Pat Foye to be the new Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman. Consider his track record at the Port Authority. The World Trade Center PATH Station costs doubled from $2 billion to $4 billion. It took 15 years after 9/11 to complete this project.

    It took seventeen years after 9/11, for the Cortland Street WTC NYC Transit #1 subway station before returning to service. The Port Authority and MTA fought for years over budget, funding sources, scope and schedule.

    The approved Port Authority 2017 – 2026 ten year $32 billion Capital Plan provided only $3.5 billion toward construction of the new $10 billion 42nd Street PA Bus Terminal. Initiation of another planning study for $70 million is just the first down payment. After decades of discussions, the project has yet to complete the environmental review process, preliminary along with final design and engineering — let alone begin construction.

    Customers may have to wait until the next Port Authority ten year 2027 – 2036 Capital Plan before a complete $10 billion funding package is in place. It may be another twenty years before completion.

    Over 30 years later, the $10 billion Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel has yet to complete a federal environmental review process.

    Is this what MTA customers have to look forward to under Foye’s watch?. Taxpayers and riders deserve better.

    (Larry Penner is a transportation historians and advocate who previously worked 31 years for the US Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office.)
    .

    • J Adlai says:

      The PABT replacement is a waste of money. Divert those funds to Gateway and expansion of rail service in NJ (West Trenton Line, Lackawanna cutoff, West Shore Line), and then build a much smaller terminal underneath a new private development that would mostly pay for itself.

  4. J Adlai says:

    The revenue that congestion pricing generates will be bonded against. What will happen in 5-10 years when that revenue is fully bonded against and there are still needs to repair/expand the system?

    It is also pretty disconcerting that the suburbs will have control. Seems like a recipe for even more disproportionate spending favoring the commuter rail system.

    • Patrick says:

      Current MTA spending does not disproportionately favor the suburbs/commuter rail systems…even if you use the most conservative figures from the NYC Comptroller, the gap is at most 2% or so.

      You can say what you want about the composition of this new traffic mobility review board, but the suburbs are not draining the MTA, and that’s not likely to change even with congestion charging.

      • J Adlai says:

        That article has a clear bias towards the suburbs.

        For example, the author points out that some sales tax in NYC is actually paid by suburban residents visiting the city. And the article also talks about how the railroads in the city benefit city dwellers. But the author doesn’t mention the opposite benefit: spending on the subways and bridges/tunnels also benefits commuters from the suburbs.

        Then there is the ESA overrun portion of the article, which could have been applied to EVERY large capital project, but was only applied to ESA.

        Finally, the author cherry picked the statistics that would support the position. Even with paying higher fares, the LIRR and MNRR have substantially higher subsidies per rider than NYC Transit. This article in the Times spells out the opposite case.

        I am all for increasing mobility in the suburbs (and I think projects like the third track are worthwhile), but I do not understand why the suburbs should have some guaranteed share of the funding pie from CP.

        • Patrick says:

          If you read the report from the New York City Comptroller (who would not have any reason to have a bias towards the suburbs), even at that office’s estimation, the value gap is at most 2% of the MTA’s overall operating budget. That’s a really insignificant amount to hang one’s hat on, especially when considering how inadequate the transit services the MTA does provide in the suburbs are.

          You are welcome to recompute the figures excluding overruns on “every large capital project”, but as clearly stated in the item, the contributions and expenditures shown for the 2015-2019 Capital Program, and ESA was the only such project to have overruns past its original budget funded as part of the 2015-2019 Capital Program. The other projects you are likely thinking of–SAS Phase 1, Fulton Street, etc.–did not receive any additional funding in this plan, so I disagree with that insinuation.

          Subsidy per passenger rates (like the ones in the linked NYT article) were mentioned in the item as being misleading, since you are comparing systems with drastically different ridership levels. All that counts at the end of the day is absolute dollars spent…while the railroads may have a much higher subsidy per passenger, they have a far lower ridership, so the actual dollars spent is much less than on the subway. When you go to the grocery store you have to pay for your items in dollars in cents, not an arbitrary cost per person unit rate.

          • J Adlai says:

            Sure,ESA was the only project to go overbudget within the 5 year capital program, but why is that relevant? Had SAS not gone overbudget before the plan was drafted, then the plan would have had that much less money allocated to SAS phase 1.

            I’m not sure that it’s misleading to measure per rider costs; it explains that you are getting more benefit per dollar clearer than any other metric. Consider it in the context of the topic at hand. MNRR and LIRR will now get 20% of CP revenue, mandatory. They account for about 7.6% of ridership. Is that an equitable distribution of resources? I would argue that it is not.

  5. Larry Littlefield says:

    “A 20-year capital needs assessment beginning in 2023.”

    At that point, under the deal advocates of debt are celebrating, all the future congestion pricing revenues will have already been spent.

    Along with all the future MTA sales tax revenues. All the future MTA payroll tax revenues. All the future MTA utility revenues. All the future MTA real estate transfer tax revenues.

    This is all about postponing disaster a few years until all of Generation Greed can finish cashing in and moving out. Nothing more.

    • smotri says:

      I don’t know about generation greed, but with taxes of all types going seemingly nowhere but up, and then new taxes (such as this ‘internet sales tax’) and congestion pricing, and with wages stagnant, at some point people start to look elsewhere to live. The things I find noteworthy about London’s congestion pricing regime are these two: (1) when it was first instituted, London’s congestion pricing did effect a lowering of overall traffic volume, but then it rebounded, and (2) the initial fees charged were subsequently substantially raised. So, did ‘congestion’ pricing do anything ultimately about…congestion? Plus, who can afford these high fees? Plus, London’s underground (and the overground) already were in better shape than the NYC subways. I think we have a very steep curve to climb to achieve the level of service of London, Paris and other big cities of the world.

      • Guest says:

        London’s congestion pricing program had a lot of exemptions but that is changing.

        -For-hire vehicles will now have to face a congestion charge starting this week.

        -Hybrid cars will no longer be exempt very soon, and in a couple year electric cars will also have to pay the charge.

        -For hire vehicles largely fueled the increased volume of cars, but as mentioned removing the exemption will have an effect.

        -Also keep in mind that while volumes went up in the cordon, they rose at a much slower rate than outside the cordon.

        On the plus side, more people are entering London using mass transportation and bicycles, more than before the charge. Probably the most on bicyclists ever. Pretty sure more people in general are now coming in than before.

  6. Justin Tokke says:

    I’ll be honest, I’ll miss Mr. Moerdler’s rants the most out of all the news here. He’s such a good speaker.

  7. Dave F says:

    I hope they don’t charge you if all you’re doing is entering the city via the Lincoln Tunnel and parking at PABT.

  8. SEAN says:

    Honestly I don’t buy the whole greener pastures elsewhere argument. If an internet sales tax & congestion pricing are reasons to consider moving, then one must reevaluate their priorities. Cold weather, job transfer/ new job offer or being closer to family are understandable, but the others are just venting at the moon & are not rational.

  9. Theorem Ox says:

    I’ll saying Kaddish for the city.

    The city and state governments keep finding ways to legalize (what ultimately amounts to) theft to sustain the reckless and the corrupt.

    To me, the most amusing part of it all is the increasing number of people that has bought into the floated “justifications” on face value while oblivious to the circular, cascading nature of the governments’ machinations. It’s become clearer over time that any actual benefit for a typical New Yorker that’s not connected is merely a coincidence.

    While Albany’s budget plan may support some of my personal views on living here, I’m not celebrating. The way it has come about and the ride that it will take us on, it is yet another signal that disabuse my remaining optimism for the city that I have called home for three decades.

  10. Phantom says:

    Bad move.

    No new major revenue sources should have been authorized before construction project and legal reform in NY State.

    Bad construction laws are a major reason why it costs are so high here.

    And the MTA has a proven inability to manage most construction projects.

    And the MTA unions will surely seek an undeserved slice of the new free money

  11. Pedro Valdez-Rivera says:

    Many of the governmental entities are trying to thoroughly audit the MTA since day one. It’s the Ultimate creature of NYS since day one. They still don’t use our own money wisely since day one.

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