In the comments to my post on the five Democratic State Senators who are current not supporting the plan to toll the East River bridges in order to support the MTA, reader John asks me list the contact info for the five holdouts. That is a great suggestion, and below you will find their information.

Remember these numbers from the Daily News when you call, write or e-mail these State Senators, urging them to support an MTA bailout plan. The numbers are similar for Kevin Parker (Brooklyn) and Ruth Hassle-Thompson (Bronx):

Fewer than 4% of Espada’s constituents drive to Manhattan, two-thirds use mass transit and more than 70% of households have no car. His people face subway reductions on the 1, 4, B and D lines. The Bx20, Bx34 and X28 buses would disappear, along with night service on the Bx10.

Only 5% of the commuters in Diaz’s district drive to Manhattan, and about 60% use transit. They’d see crowding on the Nos. 4, 5 and 6 subway lines. The Bx4, Bx14 and Bx28 buses would be wiped out.

About 5% of Kruger’s constituents drive to Manhattan; 10 times as many use transit. They’d get longer waits on the B, D, F, N and Q lines and elimination of weekend or night service on the B2, B4, B7, B31 and B64.

Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn)
E-mail: parker@senate.state.ny.us
District Office
4515 Avenue D
Brooklyn, NY 11203
Tel: (718) 629-6401
Fax: (718) 629-6420

Albany Office
411 Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Tel: (518) 455-2580
Fax: (518) 426-6843

Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn)
E-mail: kruger@senate.state.ny.us
District Office
Office of State Senator Carl Kruger
2201 Avenue U
Brooklyn, NY 11229
Tel: (718) 743-8610
Fax: (718) 743-5958

Albany Office
Office of State Senator Carl Kruger
803 Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Tel: (518) 455-2460
Fax: (518) 426-6855

Ruben Diaz, Sr. (D-Bronx)
E-mail: diaz@senate.state.ny.us
District Office
1733 East 172nd Street
Bronx, NY 10472
Tel: (718) 991-3161
Fax: (718) 991-0309

Albany Office
307 Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Tel: (518) 455-2511
Fax: (518) 426-6945

Pedro Espada, Jr. (D-Bronx)
E-mail: espada@senate.state.ny.us

Albany Office
420 State Capitol Bldg.
Albany, NY 12247
Tel: (518) 455-3395

You can also use this form on his website to reach Espada.

Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D-Bronx)
E-mail: hassellt@senate.state.ny.us
District Office
767 East Gunhill Road
Bronx, NY 10467
Tel: (718) 547-8854
Fax: (718) 515-2718

Albany Office
613 Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Tel: (518) 455-2061
Fax: (518) 426-6998

Categories : Doomsday Budget
Comments (3)

Today’s New York Times featured a story on the rising number of transit riders across the nation. When gas prices hit record highs last year, transit ridership peaked, and commuters found that leaving the car at home was both better on the wallet and less stressful.

It is, then, the perfect time for New York State to invest in transit. The City — already dependent upon its transit network — needs to ensure its system is in good repair. It needs to ensure that trains run frequently and reliably for a relatively low cost. What it doesn’t need are fictionally free bridges that serve a tiny minority of Upper-Middle class commuters.

To that end, then it is dismaying that now five state Democrats are willing to let the MTA ballout plan die. Brendan Scott, a correspondent for The Post, reports:

Unless five Democratic state senators can be convinced to change their minds, the plan to bail out the MTA by imposing tolls on East and Harlem river bridges is dead in the water, a Post survey has revealed.

The holdouts say the $2 toll proposal, the key element of the plan proposed by former MTA head Richard Ravitch, would unfairly hit outer-borough residents without access to mass transit. “If it’s 1 cent, I’m against it,” said state Sen. Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn). The others who have ruled out tolls are Carl Charger of Brooklyn, and Ruben Diaz Sr., Pedro Espada Jr. and Ruth Hassle-Thompson, all of The Bronx.

They vowed to block any tolls, even if that pushes talks past the MTA’s March 25 deadline for fare hikes and services cuts.

These State Senators do not understand simple numbers. Far more people rely on the MTA than drive. Far more people — the entire region, in fact — rely on a healthy MTA to get them to work. Far more people stand to lose out if a $2 toll — matched the cost of transit — is instituted on bridges connecting Manhattan with the rest of the world. If only these representatives knew that driving isn’t free, and free driving isn’t some sacred right protected by some higher authority.

The editorial page of The Daily News gets it. Relying on the Tri-State Transportation Campaign numbers, an oft-cited resource here at Second Ave. Sagas, they urge Malcolm Smith to rein in his party rebels:

Fewer than 4% of Espada’s constituents drive to Manhattan, two-thirds use mass transit and more than 70% of households have no car. His people face subway reductions on the 1, 4, B and D lines. The Bx20, Bx34 and X28 buses would disappear, along with night service on the Bx10.

Only 5% of the commuters in Diaz’s district drive to Manhattan, and about 60% use transit. They’d see crowding on the Nos. 4, 5 and 6 subway lines. The Bx4, Bx14 and Bx28 buses would be wiped out.

About 5% of Kruger’s constituents drive to Manhattan; 10 times as many use transit. They’d get longer waits on the B, D, F, N and Q lines and elimination of weekend or night service on the B2, B4, B7, B31 and B64.

Espada, Diaz and Kruger are threatening the well-being not only of their constituents, but of everyone who rides subways and buses. Smith must make that clear in private and, if necessary, in public. He must win.

That unequivocally says it all. I am not, however, too optimistic any longer.

Categories : Doomsday Budget
Comments (15)

mtaleadership As the MTA has lobbied in Albany for a state-sponsored rescue package, I have been waiting for the state legislature to bring the hammer down on the transit authority’s leadership. On Friday, they did just that as sources in Albany suggested that an MTA rescue plan may come with conditions requiring changes at the top of the MTA leadership structure.

Pete Donohue and Glenn Blain broke this development in the Daily News, and according to the two reporters’ sources, the MTA bailout could hit the floor of our bicameral state legislature as early as today. The Albany-based Blain and News transit guru Donohue report:

State legislation designed to rescue straphangers from massive service cuts and fare hikes could emerge in Albany as soon as Monday, sources said Friday. If approved by the state Assembly and Senate, the plan not only could put the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on firmer financial ground – but also under new leadership.

The rescue plan, which proponents hope is finalized over the weekend, merges the MTA’s unsalaried, part-time chairman’s position with the full-time chief executive officer’s post.

And it’s unclear who would get that powerful top job. MTA Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger already has a lucrative full-time position running his family’s real estate conglomerate. Transit advocates and some elected officials have praised current CEO Elliot Sander’s running of the bus, subway and commuter train network. But Gov. Paterson may bring in a fresh face to declare a new era for an authority still struggling – fairly or not – with a negative image solidified over decades.

On Saturday, Mayor Bloomberg voiced his support for the Albany plan and Elliot Sander. “Lee Sander has done a great job. He’s worked very hard, but first let’s see what the law is. If it’s changed I would certainly be happy to give my opinion to the governor,” Bloomberg said. “In terms of who should run it, if he were to pick Lee or not, I just don’t know.”

It makes political sense for the state legislatures to require something from the MTA in return for a tax-and-toll plan. A restructure and a removal of some of the MTA’s chief executives would also send a signal to New Yorkers that their representatives understand the frustration — properly directed or not — that subway riders feel with MTA leadership.

That said, Elliot Sander isn’t the problem with the MTA, and in fact, Elliot Sander is probably the best advocate the MTA could hope to have leading it through troubled times. Sander may not be the sexy political choice to head up the transit agency, but he’s a transportation wonk through and through. He knows what city transit agencies need to succeed, and he has the academic and practical experience necessary to lead the MTA through and beyond its current crisis. With a blank slate, in fact, he would bring true vision to the MTA.

In the end, it’s tough to see where this will go, but in a few weeks, one way or another, things will be different at the MTA. We’ll see record service cuts and fare hikes or some new faces at the top.

Categories : Doomsday Budget
Comments (4)

transitinvestment

The map above comes to us from GOOD Magazine. It shows the total system length (represented by subway cars) and the total daily ridership in millions (represented by the silhouettes). Cleary, as the enlarged version shows, United States transit ridership lags far behind European and Asian systems in terms of ridership.

As the City grapples with the need to fund transit, we could muse on how absurd it is that this debate is even happening. As the end of the first decade of the 21st Century draws to a close, America has not come to grips with urban life and urban methods of travel. The MTA is fighting tooth and nail just to stay afloat, and while the agency is trying to expand its system, the reality of those plans is no sure thing.

One day, maybe, we’ll see urban transit systems receive the same level of commitment as roads. After all, more people take the subway in New York in one day than they do driving along the city’s roads. It’s far better socially, environmentally and economically, but it looks like it will take nothing short of an MTA collapse for New Yorkers — and Americans — to realize it.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, downtown 1 trains skip 96th Street due to station rehabilitation.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, 2 trains run in two sections (due to switch renewal at Nostrand Avenue):

  • Between 241st Street and Franklin Avenue and
  • Between Franklin and Flatbush Avenues

Note: In the early morning hours between 12:30 a.m. to 5 a.m., trains run every 30 minutes between Franklin and Flatbush Avenues.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, downtown 2 and 3 trains skip 96th Street, then run local from 86th to Chambers Streets due to tunnel lighting.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, uptown 2 and 3 trains run local from Chambers Street to 96th Street due to tunnel lighting.


From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8, Manhattan-bound 2 trains skip Burke Avenue, Allerton Avenue, Pelham Parkway and Bronx Park East due to rail repairs.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, Manhattan-bound 2, 3 and 4 trains run express from Utica Avenue to Atlantic Avenue due to track chip-out at President Street.


From 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8, Manhattan-bound 4 trains skip Bedford Park Blvd., Kingsbridge Road, Fordham Road and 183rd Street due to switch work north of Kingsbridge Road.


From 12:01 a.m. to 7 a.m. Saturday, March 7, from 12:01 a.m. to 8 a.m. Sunday, March 8, and from 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, Brooklyn-bound 4 trains run local from 42nd Street to Brooklyn Bridge due to rail work.


From 12:30 a.m. to 6 a.m. Saturday, March 7, from 12:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. Sunday, March 8 and from 12:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. Monday, March 9, Crown Heights/Utica Avenue-bound 4 trains run local from Atlantic Avenue to Utica Avenue due to switch renewal at Nostrand Avenue.


From 11:30 p.m. Friday, March 6 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, free shuttle buses replace A trains between Jay Street-Borough Hall and Utica Avenue due to the Jay Street rehabilitation project.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, A trains run local between 168th Street and Euclid Avenue with free shuttle buses replacing A trains between Jay Street-Borough Hall and Utica Avenue due to the Jay Street rehabilitation project.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, there are no C trains running due to the Jay Street rehabilitation project. Customers should take the A instead and note that free shuttle buses replace A trains between Jay Street-Borough Hall and Utica Avenue.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, Bronx-bound D trains run express from 145th Street to Tremont Avenue due to signal work.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, Bronx-bound D trains run local from 59th to 145th Streets due to switch renewal south of 81st Street.


From 11:30 p.m. Friday, March 6 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, Manhattan-bound E and F trains run local from Forest Hills-71st Avenue to Roosevelt Avenue due to track chip-out.


From 12:30 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 5 a.m. March 9, Jamaica Center-bound E and F trains run local from Roosevelt Avenue to Forest Hills -71st Avenue due to track chip-out.


From 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 6 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9 (until further notice), there are no G trains between Forest Hills-71st Avenue and Court Square. Customers should take the E or R instead.


From 11:30 p.m. Friday, March 6 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, free shuttle buses replace L trains between Rockaway Parkway and Broadway Junction due to track panel installation at East 105th Street.


From 4 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 10 p.m. Sunday, March 8, N trains skip Prince, 8th, 23rd, and 28th Streets due to switch at Queensboro Plaza. Customers may take the Q or R instead.


From 4 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 10 p.m. Sunday, March 8, N trains are rerouted over the Manhattan Bridge between DeKalb Avenue and Canal Street in both directions due to switch renewal at Queensboro Plaza.


From 4 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 10 p.m. Sunday, March 8, Manhattan-bound N trains skip 30th Avenue, Broadway, 36th Avenue and 39th Avenue due to switch renewal at Queensboro Plaza.


From 5 a.m. to midnight, Saturday, March 7 and from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, March 8, there are no N trains between Lexington Avenue-59th Street and Times Square-42nd Street due to switch renewal at Queensboro Plaza. Customers may take the 4, 5, 6, Q or R instead.


From 4 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 10 p.m. Sunday, March 8, there are no N trains between Queensboro Plaza and Lexington Avenue-59th Street due to switch renewal at Queensboro Plaza. Customers may take the 4, 6 or 7 instead.


From 4 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 10 p.m. March 8, Q trains run on the R line between 57th Street-7th Avenue and DeKalb Avenue due to switch at Queensboro Plaza.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, Coney Island-bound Q trains run express from Prospect Park to Kings Highway due to Brighton Line station rehabilitation.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, R trains are extended to the 179th Street F station due to a track chip-out.

Categories : Service Advisories
Comments (6)
  • The futility of courting Republicans · As the three Democrats from New York represent a huge obstacle in the way of an MTA bailout, Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith is attempting to court upstate Republicans. According to William Neuman and Nicholas Confessore, Republicans are unwilling to budge in their opposition. Even George H. Winner, a Republican representing the district that houses a subway car manufacturer, won’t budget on the ideological concerns behind a payroll tax. This tax would impact only those counties served by the MTA, but no members of the GOP want to cross party ranks right now.

    As Kathry Wylde, the head of a pro-Ravitch group said, “This ought to be a bipartisan effort. Everybody has an interest in the M.T.A. and the transportation infrastructure of the region.” It ought to be, but in New York State politics, it never is. · (7)

anittollers

Carl Kruger (left), Pedro Espada, Jr. (center) and Ruben Diaz, Sr. refuse to budge on the issue of East River tolls.

When the MTA starts cutting service and raising fares in less than three weeks, remember the faces of the men up there for they will be the reason why. Democratic State Senators Pedro Espada and Ruben Diaz, both representatives from the Bronx, and Carl Kruger from Brooklyn are hell-bent on avoiding tolls for no good reason.

Never mind that the overwhelming majority of their constituents don’t have cars and those that do, don’t use them on a daily basis. Never mind the role of transit trumps the use of cars. Reality has no place in this debate apparently.

In Brooklyn, only around five percent of commuters rely on the East River bridges for their daily commutes. In the Bronx, the numbers are similar: 5.7 percent of Bronx drivers commute alone to Manhattan via the Harlem River bridges while another 2.1 percent carpool. Of the remaining 92 percent, 29.9 percent rely on transit to get them into Manhattan while another 30 percent rely on transit for non-Manhattan-bound commutes.

So what do the Bronx politicians say? No tolls. Not now. Not ever. Elizabeth Benjamin, writing about a triumvirate she calls the Three Amigos and I call the Three Stooges, has news of this disloyal opposition:

The Three Amigos – Sens. Carl Kruger, Pedro Espada Jr. and Rubuen Diaz Sr. – who recently reaffirmed their relationship and started strategizing again as a team, today issued a joint statement demanding that the MTA go “back to the drawing board” and do everything possible to avoid tolling the East and Harlem river bridges.

The three senators are “demanding” that the MTA agree to a forensic audit conducted by an outside entity and a complete accounting of all its assets – including real estate holdings, which is an issue other lawmakers have been hammering on for a while now.

The trio is open to the idea of a payroll tax, which is the other revenue-generating proposal made by the Ravitch Commission, but called the tolls a “non-starter.” “The Ravitch plan, and the attempt to foist it on the Legislature during budget negotiations, is ill-conceived and misguided,” the senators said in a press release…”Tolls hurt the ridership of our city, hurt the general public, and hurt the small business community. It is our shared belief that no plan should annex the boroughs. That is what tolls on the bridges would accomplish.”

I already pay $4 a day to go from Brooklyn to Manhattan. If I lived in Manhattan as my parents do, I’d pay $4 a day to go from Point A in Manhattan to Point B. Why people who live in the outer boroughs and drive — often unnecessarily — should get a free ride at the expense of my subway system is well beyond me. I don’t expect the Three Stooges to offer a coherent argument on that point though.

Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith can’t get any Republicans to cross the aisle to support taxes yet. He is stuck with a 29-30 vote and needs these three — rogue opponents with the Democratic party to his own position as Majority Leader — to fall into line. While Diaz has two half-cooked plans to fund the MTA, they are laughable and impractical 11th Hour solutions. Explains Benjamin, “One that would require the state to buy prescription drugs from Canada and another that would force ConEd to pay taxes.”

In their press release — ridiculed by Streetsblog commenters — they urge the MTA to “go back to the drawing board.” Start over from scratch three weeks before an era-defining moment in New York City history, they urge.

“Why should I be punishing my state and the people from my district?” Diaz Sr. asks. Well, Mr. Senator, by not supporting transit that is exactly what you’re doing. If the MTA fails, if Diaz’s precious drivers maintain their free rides while everyone else pays, I wonder who exactly will be punished.

Categories : Doomsday Budget
Comments (8)

At the end of February, New York City Transit announced that, due to construction and budgetary concerns, weekend service would be slashed no matter what. The cost savings for this move was set at around $4 million a year, and New York City Transit President Howard Roberts explained that the decision was spurred on by the MTA’s ambitious state-of-good-repair plan.

Yesterday, amidst the rancorous politicking over the MTA’s potential rescue plan, NYC Transit apparently reconsidered those potentially permanent cuts. NY1 News reports:

The MTA now says a plan to cut back weekend subway service can be avoided, if Albany lawmakers act on a plan to shore up the agency’s $1.2 billion budget gap.

Last week, the MTA said it was moving forward with plans to reduce the scheduled frequency of weekend subway service on most of the lettered lines, beginning in June. But the agency has since reversed course and now says it will drop the plan, if lawmakers come through with a rescue plan for the cash-strapped agency.

Maybe the MTA reevaluated its need to drop weekend service cuts. Maybe this is just sloppy politics. If it’s the latter, this move won’t help the MTA respond to State Senator Malcolm Smith’s claims that the agency has no control over its finances. It sure is an odd political carrot, but as a frequent weekend rider, who am I to complain?

Categories : Service Cuts
Comments (5)

After another day of MTA politicking, clear battle lines are being drawn in the fight over the transit agency’s future. In a surprising turn of events, State Democrats are opening up to the reality of tolls while State Republicans are preparing to fight the payroll tax proposals.

Most welcome is the news about the Democrats. Based on reporting by Glenn Blain and Pete Donohue, reality is finally setting in, and New York’s elected representatives have finally realized that service cuts and fare hikes would impact far more people than bridge tolls. The due of Daily News reporters write:

MTA and state officials made “significant progress” toward a plan that could avert the shutdown of some subway and bus routes, authorities said Wednesday.

Sen. Martin Dilan, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said Democratic opposition to tolls on East River bridges as part of solution to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s fiscal crisis appears to be softening.

“Members are starting to find that a majority of their constituents use the subway to Manhattan and more of their constituents will be impacted” if the MTA’s doomsday budget, including whopping fare hikes and service cuts goes, into effect.

Referring to Sen. Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (D-Queens), Dilan said, “I think the leader has confidence that he can probably get most members on board if we get some sort of givebacks from the MTA in terms of more accountability, transparency, greater fiscal transparency.”

While I’m happy to applaud this news, Sen. Dilan talks as though his co-Senators are just getting around to realizing this point now. I know New York politics has never carried with it a very good reputation, but are State Senators really that clueless? Do they not realize that their constituents have long used the subway in far greater volume than the city’s roads? Can they not do simple math? As long as they save the MTA, the ineptitude of our State Senators doesn’t matter.

Meanwhile, Sheldon Silver believes he now has enough votes in the Assembly to pass his $2 toll plan. Republicans, however, are planning to vote against any MTA bailout with taxes, and City Council members — whose constituents are the same transit users as the State Senators’ — may block transfer of the bridges to the MTA on some sort of quasi-home rule/anti-toll basis.

“A real property transfer is subject to our land use review procedure,” Councilman Lew Fidler, D-Brooklyn, said to Crain’s New York. “I surely would object on that basis and join any lawsuit brought if it were done without our consent..I realize that two bucks is not a burdensome amount, but if you think that amount will remain so low, I have a bridge to sell you.”

If the State Senators can embrace reality, why can’t Fidler? The MTA doesn’t have time for politicians to learn that the subways are truly where populist sentiments lie. That is a lesson that must be embraced now and not after everyone is mad over bad, expensive subway service. This Great Transit Awakening better speed up. It has three weeks.

Categories : Doomsday Budget
Comments (4)

Hot on the heels of Albany’s appeals to populist anger at the MTA comes more news about the state of the proposed Ravitch plan to save transit. It sounds like there will be some backroom politicking over the next few weeks as the MTA Board’s self-imposed March 25 deadline draws near.

In a somewhat surprising about-face, the New York Post urges Malcolm Smith to see Sheldon Silver’s $2 toll plan through the Senate. The Post has mostly protested taxes and tolls, but this latest missive believes that, because Richard Ravitch is a trustworthy source, the MTA really does have this budget problem. Another audit just months after Ravitch conducted his own thorough investigation would be an unnecessary and costly political diversion.

“Smith doesn’t seem to have the foggiest idea of how to save the system. And if he doesn’t know, how will he convince defiant members?” writes the paper’s editorial board. ” If he thinks the Senate’s constituents will be unhappy with tolls, what will they say about massive fare hikes? Or, in the not-too-distant future, a crippled mass transit system? It’s that serious.”

The Daily News’ editorial board takes a similar tone with Smith. Blame him, they say, when the MTA is in shambles.

Business leaders who recognize what an underfunded MTA means to the economy are calling upon State GOP representatives to support a bailout. New York’s partisan lines are thickly drawn, but if the business community starts pushing this proposal, state Republicans may just rally behind the tolls.

Finally, the Post notes the MTA bailout may get stuck in Albany for months. Senator Smith has indicted that he wants to tie the MTA’s money into the state budget, and any deal on the state budget is still months away. Smith’s office publicly denied this allegation and has stressed a desire for a speedy resolution to this problem.

That sound you hear is the Doomsday clock ticking ever closer to midnight.

Categories : Doomsday Budget
Comments (1)

In 2003, the MTA was no better off in the eyes of the public than it is now. That year, the agency was accused of cooking up two sets of books in order to justify a fare hike. One set showed the agency operating a deficit; the other showed a historic surplus.

At the time, Alan Hevesi unleashed a scathing report about the MTA’s behavior, and the agency was judged permanently guilty in the eyes of public opinion. It would be a watershed moment in the history of government — or quasi-government — agency corruption.

Fast forward to 2009. None of the MTA officials or board members responsible for the “two sets of books” scandal is still in power. Instead, the MTA Board is headed up by people with bona fide transit credentials, and the agency has attempted to be more transparent. Still, after years of governmental neglect, the MTA’s finances are in legitimate disarray, and if to close what may be nearly a $2 billion budget gap, the MTA will have to implement a Doomsday budget on March 25 if the state doesn’t act.

For its part, the State Senate can’t get over a scandal six years in the past. Glenn Blain and Pete Donohue tell of state Democrats questioning the MTA’s credibility:

Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) said the Metropolitan Transportation Authority “does not have a history of being forthright in terms of their budget. You know, they kept two books at a time.”

Senate Dems planned a “full vetting of MTA finances” and want to strengthen the state controller’s oversight of the authority, Smith said in a statement last night. Senate action on any bailout plan wouldn’t happen this week, a Smith spokesman said.

The “two sets of books” phrase was popularized in a legal challenge of MTA fare hikes in 2003. A suit based on reports by the state and city controllers claimed the MTA misled the public by exaggerating its financial situation. Two trial judges agreed, but an appeals panel overruled them. It unanimously declared “the record does not support the lower court rulings that the 2003 and 2004 deficit was ‘fictional.’”

Smith, it seems, is willing to penalize the MTA — and by extension, all New Yorkers — for a story that broke six years ago and was resolved by the state courts half a decade ago. At what point does this fishing expedition become simply that? Smith doesn’t want to confront the hard truth of Senate inaction and would rather pawn off these problems on the good old public scapegoat version of the MTA.

Ignore the fact that 22 of 62 State Senators weren’t even in the legislative body when this scandal broke. Ignore the fact that we should vote out any who don’t support the MTA. Just think about that time when bad MTA leaders cooked the books. Clearly, the only logical result is another audit, and by golly, that’s just what the Senate Dems are getting three weeks before doomsday.

Elliot Sander, the current MTA head who actually knows what he’s doing, had the best response to the Albany inanities: “The time for excuses is over. Albany needs to act.” Hear, hear.

Categories : MTA Economics
Comments (19)
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