Home MTA Politics A Town Hall and an audit won’t fix the MTA

A Town Hall and an audit won’t fix the MTA

by Benjamin Kabak

Marty Golden, Republican, is, according to his website, “Brooklyn’s voice in Albany.” The four-term State Senator hails from District 22, an oddly-shaped area that includes transit-rich neighborhoods such as Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Ocean Parkway along side car-heavy neighborhoods such as Gerritsen Bay and the area surrounding Marine Park. Who his constituents are and what they need remain a mystery to Senator Golden.

To whit, a call for a Town Hall on the MTA. With many of his constituents set to lose transit service, Senator Golden’s office has announced a meeting on the service cuts. “The MTA continues to move forward to adopt the doomsday budget that will severely impact bus service in our community,” John Quaglione, the Senator’s press secretary and district manager, said earlier this week. “We are not going to let the MTA come into our neighborhood and greatly disrupt our transportation system. We can not afford it and the residents and commuters deserve better.”

Now, Brooklyn and, in particular, Golden’s district are in for some harsh cuts. Bay Ridge is losing numerous bus routes and seeing service along others reduced. The M train will no longer go to Bay Parkway in Bensonhurst after June 27, and midday and weekend service on every subway line that passes through Golden’s area will be scaled. He should be outraged. But a Town Hall? Really? That’s the best one of our State Senators can do?

Over the last few years, Golden, as a loyal member of the do-nothing opposition minority party in the Senate, has, well, done nothing. He did nothing to support the Ravitch plan and did nothing to support congestion pricing. Now, he wants to do more of nothing without offering a solution to the MTA’s financial woes. The Town Hall meeting might turn out some disgruntled voters, and it might win Golden some political points in a district he won unopposed in 2006. It won’t solve the problem.

Of course, Golden’s position is an untenable one for obvious reasons. First, he’s a member of the state GOP, and the Republicans in the New York State Senate have done nothing to assist the MTA. It is, they reason, the majority party’s problem, and even though thousands of Golden’s constituents need their subways and buses, he hasn’t helped with a solution. Second, he represents some very vocal and adamant drivers. Even though their numbers are but a slim fraction of those who ride the subway, these drivers near Marine Park have been the most outspoken congestion pricing opponents. Golden wouldn’t dare turn his back on those with political clout who needs their autos. That solution is staring him in the face, but he won’t embrace it.

Golden is but one of many State Senators fishing in the dark. Earlier this week, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli agreed to a forensic audit of the MTA, and Assembly representatives were ecstatic. Fred Thiele, an Independent representative from Suffolk County who is an outspoken critic of the payroll tax, had this to say:

“I want to take this opportunity to thank the Comptroller for his hard work and the dedication of him and his staff as they work to ensure that state taxpayer money is spent in accordance with the law. As a strong opponent of the MTA Payroll Tax and the ‘bailout’ legislation enacted by the Legislature last year (I voted against the proposal), I want to make sure these monies are spent and collected properly; especially given that MTA estimates for the Payroll Tax revenues have been grossly underestimated. The financial woes of the MTA have been well documented only recently and I pledge to continue to work with my Assembly colleagues and Comptroller DiNapoli on this issue.”

Here, Thiele is, simply put, ignoring reality. The MTA’s estimates haven’t been “grossly underestimated”; rather, the numbers supplied to the MTA by the state’s own accounting and taxation department have been grossly understated. If he were to stop and examine the situation, he would find fault resting not entirely with the MTA but in Albany too. That would, however, require an Assembly representative to take far too much responsibility for the way the state is run.

In the end, DiNapoli would conduct his audit, and we know what he’ll find. The MTA isn’t a very lean organization and could be better run. But he’ll also find honest accounting and a budget hole of $751 million this year. What then, I wonder, will the Marty Goldens and Fred Thieles of the state do? When the truth comes about an MTA teetering on the edge of fiscal ruin, who will the grandstanding politicians blame next? It certainly won’t be themselves.

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Andrew April 30, 2010 - 7:11 am

How is midday subway service in Golden’s district changing?

Benjamin Kabak April 30, 2010 - 9:23 am

Longer headways.

Andrew April 30, 2010 - 5:33 pm

Golden’s district includes the 1, 7, A, or L? Those are the only four subway lines that are getting midday service cuts, according to the service cut document that was posted here back in January or February.

Benjamin Kabak April 30, 2010 - 5:36 pm

Mmm. I see my omission. I should have said weekend headways. The D, N, F and R are all seeing weekend headways increased ostensibly to accomodate construction. So those four lines do all run through Golden’s district, and of course, he’s losing the entirety of M service to Bay Parkway. My mistake.

Streetsblog New York City » Today’s Headlines April 30, 2010 - 9:03 am

[…] Transit Do-Nothing Marty Golden Holds an MTA "Town Hall" (SAS) […]

Skip Skipson April 30, 2010 - 10:21 am

that includes transit-rich neighborhoods such as Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensenhurst and Ocean Parkway

You misspelled Bensenhurst


Don’t worry though, I’ll have a town hall meeting and venting about it should fix the problem.

Eric F. April 30, 2010 - 10:26 am

You actually found a Republican in Brooklyn! Awesome, for a minute there I was worried that there would be no one to blame, but you were in fact able to find an “R”. Excellent. Well I’m sure we can get rid of those remaining Republicans at some point and finally impose the kind of new and increased taxes and fees that will save the MTA once and for all. We are at war with East Asia. We have always been at war with East Asia…

Benjamin Kabak April 30, 2010 - 10:31 am

I’m not sure what East Asia has to do with anything, but if you think a Town Hall is going to save the MTA, more power to you. Regardless of the party affiliation, Golden’s just another New York politician unwilling to make a hard choice when it comes to funding transit. We can, as I’ve done, lump together Republicans and Democrats and Independents in that category of spineless politicians without a clue.

AK April 30, 2010 - 10:42 am

Ben has slammed uninformed Dems many times:



Sounds like someone is more interested in playing politics than actually looking into Ben’s record…

Eric F. April 30, 2010 - 11:19 am

Fine by me, but then I’m not sure why the party affiliation is front and center in this posting. The guy represents an outerboro constituency. A ton of people there likely use trains to get into Manhattan every day, and it’s very likely that a ton more use cars to get around Brooklyn and to see their friends and relatives who live in L.I. or S.I. His stance is not brave but neither is it notable.

What I find amazing is the number of otherwise sane, relatively rational individuals who believe (1) that their fare is pretty much all the MTA uses to fund itself and (2) the fare is way too high because of some vaguely-understood management profit taking of some sort, like the MTA is IBM or something.

AK April 30, 2010 - 1:50 pm

I’m not entirely sure what your point is, but your intuition about car use in Brooklyn is incorrect.

As Ben has noted many times, as of the last census, 54% of New York City households do not own or lease a motor vehicle. Manhattanites are the most car-free; 78% of households there do not have a vehicle. In the Bronx, the car-free share of households is 60%. Brooklyn is also majority car-free, with 54%. Only Queens and Staten Island have car-free minorities: 34% and 20%, respectively.

Here is a district-by-district breakdown of commuting patterns:


The study concludes: “In every New York City Council district, the vast majority of workers would not be affected by a congestion pricing fee as they do not drive to work alone in what would become the congestion pricing zone (Manhattan below 86th Street). In none of the 51 City Council districts do more than 7.2% of workers drive alone to the congestion pricing zone, and in only seven districts do more than 5% of workers drive alone to the CPZ. Furthermore, vehicle-owning households in every NYC Council district are wealthier than households without access to a vehicle.”

These are the facts. What you make of them is entirely up to you.

Al D April 30, 2010 - 10:50 am

Ah, Marty Golden. He’ll re-draw his district once more as needed to ensure his continued representation (term used loosely of course). Perhaps at the Town Hall meeting which no doubt will be held in his catering hall where double parking is required because no one would ever take the R train there, they can blame the MTA for all those double parked cars on the street. This is the same bloc that wanted weekend x27 and x28 express buses for years, and what happened? When they got ’em, nobody used ’em, and so the MTA, after spending all this money on ’em for many years, finally said enough. What was their response? They complained!

E. Aron April 30, 2010 - 10:56 am

Ultimately this burden falls on the voters. If this guy, Carl Kruger, and god forbid Pedro Espada remain in office, it’s collectively our fault. We get the leadership we deserve.

Bolwerk April 30, 2010 - 3:06 pm

We really need a constitutional convention in NYS.

Preferably one Rudy Giuliani won’t be invited to!

Joe from SI April 30, 2010 - 4:48 pm

I love how it took him this long to actually realize that service was going to be cut in his area. I guess he finally got around to answering his emails.

Another anti-everything Assembly rep slams the MTA :: Second Ave. Sagas May 11, 2010 - 1:37 am

[…] rally itself was organized by Hyer-Spencer, and State Senator Marty Golden, who recently proposed a pointless Town Hall on the service cuts — but no real solutions to the MTA’s woes &mdash: was in […]

Golden named to Capital Program Review Board :: Second Ave. Sagas January 21, 2011 - 12:07 pm

[…] on the MTA. He March he trumped the claim for more financial oversight, and in April, he protested the service cuts after failing to support the Ravitch Plan recommendations or congestion […]


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