In October, when Gov. David Paterson announced a statewide financial crisis, he threatened to cut $113 million in state subsidies to the MTA. Yesterday, the state legislature passed their revised appropriations bill, and the cuts are worse than expected. The new budget — which you can view here — strips approximately $140 million from the MTA. “This is not good news,” non-voting MTA Board member Andrew Albert said to the Daily News.
With the bad news came rumblings of a fare hike. The MTA does not plan to institute another fare hike until 2011, but with this unexpected dip in funding, no options are off the table. Mitchell Pally, another board member, said that the agency is “going to do everything possible to keep fares and service at the same level,” and just three weeks ago, Jay Walder pledged to avoid a 2010 fare hike. Yet, if an unexpected MTA budget gap opens up next year, the agency will have few options as the state tightens its purse strings.
I recall the previous fare hike was just yesterday!
Some ready-made quotes for politician’s faux–outrage:
“It’s unconscionable for the MTA to consider yet another fare hike, there must be $140 million in fat that can be made.”
“Everybody knows the MTA keeps a dozen different set of books, it doesn’t really need that money.”
“If New York City would stop wasting money on bike lanes then the MTA wouldn’t have these budgetary problems.”
“The MTA had better not think of raising the tolls on its bridges and tunnels. It’s my god-given right to drive anywhere I want in the city.”
“Someone else should pay, but not the riders, and certainly not overtaxed taxpayers.”
I kind of wish the MTA were split into its suburban and urban components, with each responsible for maintaining a balanced budget whatever way it sees fit, including fare increases. If the city, various counties, and the state want to pitch in, great. But we’re no better off today than the City was in the 1930s when the then–private companies ran themselves into the ground over the fear of generating enough revenue from fares to pay for ongoing operations.
The private companies didn’t run themselves into the ground. The contracts they had signed with the city mandating a 5-cent fare ran them into the ground.
…which Mayor Hylan supposedly kept in force out of a deep-seated grudge against the BMT company for firing him from a motorman position when he was a younger man.
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