Jim Brennan: It’s Okay to Fund Transit With Fees on Driving

A reader forwards this email from Assembly member Jim Brennan’s office, apparently sent in response to the "Keep New York Moving" petition in support of an MTA rescue plan:

Thank you for your email regarding the MTA. the Ravitch Commission has identified that that the MTA faces a combined capital budget and operating deficit shortfall of over $2 billion a year, to continue its construction program, eliminate service cutbacks, and mitigate fare hikes to the 8% range.

I support the proposed payroll tax and would certainly vote for a mix of taxes and fees related to vehicle ownership or use to raise the sums of money the MTA needs. I also agree that the Legislature needs to act as quickly as possible to address the problem.

It’s not exactly getting out in front of the issue, but I suppose an indirect statement like this is the politically palatable way to say bridge tolls are a good idea. If you’ve received any constituent letters from your
elected officials in Albany regarding their stance on funding transit, tell us about it in the comments.

We’re hearing from advocates that the Ravitch Commission’s package of recommendations is getting a warmer reception from state legislators than the congestion pricing proposal did last year, but there’s still a lot of convincing to be done. One source in Albany tells us that the key to adopting Ravitch’s MTA rescue plan, including bridge tolls, may lie with State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, and whether the Queens Democrat is willing and able to mobilize his conference in support of it.

Readers interested in helping out this weekend to drum up public support for the Ravitch plan are in luck. Transportation Alternatives is organizing six petition drives in Brooklyn and Queens starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday, and they’re looking for a few good volunteers. Email wiley [at] transalt.org and specify where you’d like to pitch in: Astoria, Jackson Heights, Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope, Williamsburg or Bushwick. Also, keep an eye out in your neighborhood paper for T.A.’s local ad campaign (posted after the jump).

transit_ad.jpg

  • why we should advocate for a plan that raises fares for straphangers in the middle of the worst unemployment this city has seen in decades? The Kheel-Komanoff plan is far better.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I’ve got to admit Brennan’s acumen. He realizes it’s too late, the transit system is will be entering a downward spiral, and his generation has won, so it’s OK to pass some pallatives to put off the collapse five years until the rest of them can retire and leave the state.

    Notice the pick up in interest now that the MTA is coming around to describing its true situation. Even with the Ravitch plans, repeated service cuts and fare increases are inevitable. This is about saying “we did our share, it’s all the fault of the unaccountble MTA.” As if history began yesterday, and 15 years of future selling decisions didn’t happen.

    Now that the MTA is fessing up to is real estate tax situation, how about some realistic assumptions about how much money will have to be diverted to the pension plan? And that’s even without the 20/50 enhancement Brennan voted for.

    And what will the quality of maintenance be like as the pay and benefits of new hires is slashed, and the TWU shifts course and pretends it’s on the side of its younger no-choice dues payers by telling them “management” is cheating them so they have no obligation to do a decent job? It took 20 years to break that mentality, and it isn’t completely gone.

  • What planet are you from, where the TWU is responsible for the MTA’s pension losses? by the way, workplace representation doesn’t work unless everybody is in; nobody out–and “no choice” TWUers have elections to pick leadership. Go post on a rightwing site if you want to kick up the politics of resentment against working people who have decent paychecks and pensions.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Brennan Proposes $4.5B Transpo Bond for Next MTA Capital Plan

|
With the next three years of the MTA capital plan officially moving forward — even without dedicated funding from Albany — it’s time to start talking about 2015. That’s when the next MTA capital plan starts. And distant as it may seem, on the political calendar it’s just around the corner. In fact, in Albany, […]

Tell State Legislators to Avert MTA Doomsday

|
This afternoon, the State Senate is holding a hearing at Brooklyn Borough Hall to review the Ravitch Commission’s MTA rescue plan. Albany has until March 25th to stave off major fare hikes and service cuts, a doomsday scenario that would spell disaster for transit riders and choke New York City streets with more auto traffic. […]

No, the MTA Can’t Afford Cuomo’s Transit Raids

|
I think most transit riders would laugh — cynically — at the idea that the MTA has more than enough funds to meet its needs. But this is exactly what the MTA’s chairman Tom Prendergast said when he learned that the state would be diverting $30 million from the MTA’s funding stream to balance the […]

Brodsky: Assembly “Working to Find Partners” for MTA Funding

|
Last week we e-mailed a short list of questions about the MTA financial crisis to Assembly Member Richard Brodsky. Here are his responses, received yesterday, shortly after we posted our "doomsday" scorecard. Streetsblog: Given the MTA’s need for both operating and capital funds, what revenue streams would you like to see tapped at this point […]

Has John Liu Jumped the Shark on MTA Rescue?

|
While his colleague from Brooklyn Bill de Blasio has given his blessing to tolls on East River bridges, Queens City Council Member John Liu — who, as of this writing, is running for city comptroller — seems to have officially joined the chorus of electeds who insist that the MTA’s dire financial straits constitute a […]