Home MTA Economics Kruger blames the MTA for Albany’s mistake

Kruger blames the MTA for Albany’s mistake

by Benjamin Kabak


Top: A view of the IRT Flushing Line in Queens around the time service began in the 1920s. Bottom: The same view only 20 years later.

Pop quiz: What mode of transportation moved New York City away from a lower Manhattan tenement-based city into the current sprawling metropolis it is today?

A. Our feet. People just loved to walk and discovered that Flushing isn’t actually that far from Manhattan.
B. Automobiles.
C. Public transportation.

Considering the picture atop this pot, is it really a surprise that the answer is C? Although the automobile played a role in driving people away from the overcrowded conditions of Lower Manhattan, the subway — and the five-cent fare — made a dispersal of people to points north and east possible. Without the subway, New York’s eight million residents wouldn’t be able to live in Canarsie and work near Canal St. They wouldn’t commute from Forest Hills to the Financial District or from Midwood to Midtown.

This reality is lost on many in New York and not least upon our city’s elected representatives and politicians who control the purse strings. As the MTA has come to grips this week with a state calculation error of $200 million that will leave a hole in the MTA’s budget, politicians have tried to avoid taking any responsibility whatsoever for this Albany-inspired problem. Take, for example, Brooklyn’s own Carl Kruger.

His statement, in part blames the MTA for Albany’s inability to calculate revenue streams:

Our ability to budget is only as good as our ability to forecast. We were dependent upon data supplied by the Office of Management and Budget with the understanding that it was verified by the MTA’s own fiscal staff.

Furthermore, our projections were based on the fiscal year rather than the calendar year. This critical point should have been taken into account when the MTA fiscal staff developed its parameters.

It is my shared belief that the payroll tax will ‘kick in’ when the dust settles and smaller employers start making their mandatory contributions. It may not happen in the calendar year, but it will happen in the fiscal year. Since our cuts were calculated on a pro rata basis for the fiscal year and not the calendar year, for the MTA to charge its books with a cut of $143 million in the calendar year obviously has a more severe impact than spreading it out over the fiscal year.

Kruger goes on to warn the MTA against creating “an atmosphere of confusion or a needless sense of unrest over what appears to be self-adjusting bookkeeping issues.” I’m not quite sure with what he can threaten the agency though; Albany can’t take away more money.

Anyway, the idea that this is somehow the MTA’s fault due to a calendar year/fiscal year mix-up is absurd. The state legislature has long been aware that the MTA’s fiscal year is a calendar year, and when they passed the bailout package earlier this year, they do so with an eye toward filling a smaller calendar year gap this year and a larger 12-month gap next year. Kruger’s so-called “share belief” that the money will “kick in” next year is nothing but a pipedream by a politician who isn’t fulfilling his duties as a member of the State Senate. (Or perhaps he just fits it with that august body all too well.)

Kruger’s statement is barely news-worthy anymore. We know Albany doesn’t understand how to govern, and we know politicians don’t understand the importance of mass transit in New York’s economy. When they wake up to that reality, it will be too late.

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Building 11 December 10, 2009 - 8:41 am

This is an example of logic that I’d expect from Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh.

SEAN December 10, 2009 - 10:20 am

Heck even Alex Jones for that matter. Although AJ doesn’t float my boat either. Time to vote out all anti transit polititions at all levels.

E. Aron December 10, 2009 - 10:44 am

He won 97% of the votes in 2008 against a Conservative candidate. You’ll have to wait on this one, at least.

rhywun December 10, 2009 - 3:09 pm

Voters don’t look at “issues”. They look at “D” and “R”. I suppose they could be a little more discerning at primary time, but at that time they just pick the familiar name (the incumbent).

R2 December 10, 2009 - 9:04 am

Ugh! Kruger disgusts me on way too many levels.

BTW, spectacular image. Do you know exactly which station along Queens Blvd it is?

Cap'n Transit December 10, 2009 - 9:13 am

R2, that looks like the 40th Street station.

In Kruger’s district (PDF), 45% of households don’t own a car, and less than a third of commuters drive to work. That means that a huge segment of his constituents rely on the MTA. So who’s going to challenge him in the primary?

drosejr December 10, 2009 - 9:17 am

No offense to those who live in Kruger’s district, but I do hope some of the service cuts are centered on his district and those of the other members of the Fare Hike Four (Diaz Sr., Espada and Monserrate) so they can have their constituents in their face for the next year about how they didn’t fund the MTA. Shameful.

Kid Twist December 10, 2009 - 9:43 am

Gee, they raised taxes in the middle of a recession and got less revenue than they expected. What a surprise.

Building 11 December 10, 2009 - 9:44 am

33rd Street. The building is on the southeast corner of Queens Boulevard and Van Dam Street.

Cap'n Transit December 10, 2009 - 10:11 am

Here is what the station looks like today:


Avoiding service cuts through stimulus funds or tolls :: Second Ave. Sagas | A New York City Subway Blog December 10, 2009 - 12:41 pm

[…] « Kruger blames the MTA for Albany’s mistake Dec […]

tacony palmyra December 10, 2009 - 12:52 pm

Amazing photos. Can you imagine building an elevated rail line through undeveloped fields today? We’d never do it.

Ariel December 10, 2009 - 7:45 pm

The city is doing it with the 7 train extension, although that is just a stub and not an entire line.

Publius December 10, 2009 - 3:15 pm

The photos are separated by much more than 20 years. The cars in the second photo are from the 1960s.

Benjamin Kabak December 10, 2009 - 3:17 pm

That’s not what the source of the photos says, but it looks as though you’re definitely right. Still, the point remains. Those parts of Queens don’t look as they do now because of cars. The subway drove people there, and development sprung up around access to public transit.

Think twice December 10, 2009 - 3:54 pm

According to last Monday’s Daily News article on the failed Gay Marrage Bill:

“Gay advocates tried to get Councilman Lew Fidler to challenge Brooklyn Democrat Sen. Carl Kruger, who voted “no,” but Fidler declined. Kruger would be tough to beat because he heads the powerful Senate Finance Committee and has $2 million in his campaign account.”

With lots of motivated enemies among transit advocates and the LGBT community, what we all need to do is unveil him as the incompetent fraud that he is. Especially in lieu of the tax revenue shortfall.

E. Aron December 10, 2009 - 6:02 pm

Again, you’ll have to wait until 2014 for this particular Senator.

Any Democrat worth his or her salt would refuse to vote for Kruger, Diaz, Espada or Monserrate (or Malcolm Smith for that matter). Espada doesn’t even live in the Bronx! http://gothamist.com/2009/04/2.....mta_ba.php

Try to campaign against them. Kruger, though, got so much pork from Republicans when they were running the show that I doubt anyone could raise the money to challenge him. Social conservatism promises to keep Espada and especially Diaz in power interminably, as well. Shame.

Joe December 10, 2009 - 10:50 pm

While I agree with your sentiment about Kruger and the rest of the gang of 4 that have plagued the Democrats in the State Senate, I have a slight correction. Someone can challenge Kruger next year, as our state senators serve two year terms, and Kruger will up for election next November.

E. Aron December 11, 2009 - 6:32 am

You’re right about that. Call me corrected.

Alon Levy December 10, 2009 - 10:08 pm

If the subway hadn’t been built, New York would’ve just built underground mainline rail instead. There were plans to connect Flatbush Terminal with Grand Central with underwater tunnels and through-run NYC and LIRR trains until the subway came along.

Battling negative public perceptions :: Second Ave. Sagas | A New York City Subway Blog December 11, 2009 - 1:44 am

[…] believe this sense of distrust comes from Albany. It comes about when Carl Kruger blames the MTA for his own mistakes. It comes about when corrupt comptrollers level false charges of bad booking at the agency, and it […]

Another Senator blames the MTA for his own incompetency :: Second Ave. Sagas | A New York City Subway Blog December 11, 2009 - 3:52 pm

[…] already know that Carl Kruger will take no responsibility for his own bad bailout plan. Now another Senator — Martin Malave Dilan — is pointing fingers at the MTA in a way that just […]

The MTA; another way out? : Aaron J. Knoll January 11, 2010 - 11:28 am

[…] about the power of transit construction, to summarize the point he very elegantly makes, but the story of New York’s development pattern is highly related to subway construction. Flushing is shown in the top image when the 7 was just built, and […]


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