Home MTA EconomicsDoomsday Budget The less you know…

The less you know…

by Benjamin Kabak

On Friday afternoon, I linked to a Sewell Chan piece on The Times City Room blog about the impending cut backs and fare hikes the MTA may soon have to enact. As the day dragged on, Chan’s piece generated over 180 comments on The Times’ website, but as one of my readers noted, these readers are woefully uninformed about the state of the MTA.

Let’s take a peek at some of the more egregiously ill-informed comments, starting with comment 8:

It’s because there workers demand raises every year since they are part of a union, they are entitled to a raise. That’s what the last hike was about not our budget problem but giving the workers more money.

Comment 9:

Didnt they just have a billion dollar surplus?!? What happened to that money?

Comment 23:

LIES!!! There is no fiscal crisis in the MTA. The MTA runs 2 sets of books, as proven by State Comptroller Alan Hevesi in 2002. They hide millions of dollars in this second accounting ledger so they can cry “Bankruptcy!” and squeeze millions of more dollars from the state and city budgets.

Comment 53:

The MTA has been paying fraudulent LIRR disability cases and inflated overtime/social security benefits. What happened to the surplus a few years back? What happened to the second set of accounting books

My personal favorite, e-mailed to me by fellow transit supporter Chris, at Comment 130:

This is RIDICULOUS!!!!!!! These idiots decide to “invest” the money into dangerous and ultimately pathetically awful securities….actually, more like “get-rich-quick” schemes for the highest levels of our society….you know, those geniuses who know better than us morons…..and now we have to foot the bill? Why cant Peter Kalikow, in all his brilliance take a pay cut, huh? He makes upwards of 400K for what? To bury the MTA in debt and have to impose these hardships on us? They should be dragged out into the streets and each given 100 lashes. Then they can keep their jobs. I bet you it wont happen again after that!

In case anyone has forgotten, Kalikow last served as head of the MTA in 2007. To say that anyone who doesn’t know that hasn’t been paying attention would be a gross understatement.

If there’s any doubt about who is winning the PR game, I think this wraps it up in favor of the anti-congestion pricing, anti-tolling, anti-MTA crowd in the New York State legislature who would rather cut their own arteries than fund transit. People are hung up on six-year-old scandals, on misunderstandings surrounding MTA finances, even on how the tolling plan would work. And of course, some people don’t even know who’s in charge of the MTA.

When the MTA votes to enact its Doomsday budget in ten days, people will again protest the MTA. They’ll call for the heads of Dale Hemmerdinger and Elliot Sander. Again, transit advocates who have failed so far will attempt to educate the public, but the public just isn’t listening. They’ve made up their minds about the MTA, as at the City Room readers show, no amount of facts, truth or logic will convince them otherwise.

The MTA is not efficient, and its history as way too many separate entities has never been more glaringly obvious. A new public benefit corporation built from the bottom up with streamlined operations and inter-agency lines of communication would be far better for the City of New York in 2009. But right now, we’re stuck with what’s there, and whether New Yorkers know and understand it, when Albany fails to act, the state legislature will have won the anti-tolling war, but they will lose the mass transit battle for all New Yorkers.

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Alon Levy March 16, 2009 - 2:37 am

Maybe they’ll call for Kalikow’s head instead…

Windsor Terrace March 16, 2009 - 4:29 am

Didn’t Kalikow work for $1 a year, too? Get what you pay for…

UWS March 16, 2009 - 7:44 am

Thanks for setting the record straight. I do want to point out that “take a peak” is not the same as “take a peek”. I see this all the time in the blog world and it drives me nuts.

Kid Twist March 16, 2009 - 8:36 am

Well, I think it’s time Peter Kalikow stopped defrauding the LIRR on disability claims!!!1!!!!1!!

zz March 16, 2009 - 8:56 am

Where the hell is the Straphanger’s campaign? They’ve been almost invisible, except for occasional quotes in the paper by Gene Russianoff. Richard Ravich has done all the heavy lifting… he even came to an evening community forum in my neighborhood, where he was brushed off by our idiotic Albany delegation. Meanwhile, there has been no advocacy movement to speak of.

EC March 16, 2009 - 11:21 am

Having moved here from Los Angeles recently I am quite shocked by the lack of transit advocacy here in the city.

I’d venture to say that Los Angeles has more transit advocacy groups then New York City (some of which I was part of)

That needs to change and quickly along with a group of people getting together to educate the communities about the MTA or at least the basics of the system.

Its embarrassing to see how ill informed the average person in New York is about the system they use every day.

Maybe a new group needs to be formed?

Benjamin Kabak March 16, 2009 - 11:24 am

I think it does. I don’t really understand how the Straphangers could be so silent during the last few months. They’ve been a non-entity during these debates, and there’s only so much people like me can do with a limited readership. Where are the rider advocates and educational campaigns?

James D March 16, 2009 - 6:31 pm

Strappies? Aren’t they like Subchat without the interesting people? 😉

EC March 16, 2009 - 11:49 am

Well change begins at home.

Maybe “we” should set up another group? Or takeover a group that already exists?

Anon March 16, 2009 - 7:10 pm

Windsor Terrace

I believe it would have been and would be illegal for Kalikow and the current board members to be compensated a $1 for their duties.
perhaps you should be posting on the New York Times Blog with the other enlightened New Yorkers?
You need only to have watched Friday’s emergency board meeting to be reminded that the board IS NOT COMPENSATED.

What should we do with “uninformed” comments? March 18, 2009 - 11:16 am

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The uninformed masses take on the MTA :: Second Ave. Sagas | A New York City Subway Blog May 26, 2009 - 3:01 pm

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