Today’s Headlines

  • Progress on MTA Rescue: Senate Warms to Tolls in Return for Transparency Measures (News)
  • How State Legislators Make Decisions That Affect New York City (Gotham Gazette)
  • LA #1, New York #2 on List of America’s Most Congested Cities (Forbes via Planetizen)
  • Weekend Subway Service May Not Get Cut After All (NY1)
  • Who Wants to Succeed Morgenthau as Manhattan DA? (Room 8)
  • A GM Town Recovers Without GM Jobs (NYT)
  • The Trains in Spain Go Faster Than the Planes (NPR)
  • For Congestion Reduction, a Small Drop in Driving Goes a Long Way (Yglesias)
  • Edmonton Considers $100M, 10-Year Bike Plan (Hub and Spokes via Streetsblog.net)
  • CA Legislator Proposes Statewide Parking Reform (Streetsblog LA)
  • Red

    “Members are starting to find that a majority of their constituents use the subway to Manhattan and more of their constituents will be impacted” if the MTA’s doomsday budget, including whopping fare hikes and service cuts goes, into effect. – Sen. Martin Dilan.

    Geez, what a revelation.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The irony is that the MTA’s books are in fact a scam, but in the opposite direction that the politos have asserted all these years. They’ve claimed repeatedly that the MTA has hidden billions to pay for more service, richer pensions, lower fares relative to inflation, and less tax-funded subsidies — all so more money could be diverted to special interests in the short run (now the past).

    The fact is that ongoing replacement of equipment and rehabilitation of structures is an ongoing expense, the equivalent of maintenance, and should never have been borrowed for.

    Moreover, in order to borrow money instead of paying for it up front, a huge share of the MTA’s operating budget has been designated “reimbursible” capital spending. These are MTA employees located somewhere near a location where contractors are going repairs, or perhaps not so near.

    Billions of dollars of pension and retiree health care costs incurred in the past have been shifted to the present and future. The pension costs have been shifted by assuming fraudulently high investment returns, and granting retroactive sweeteners that were neither worked nor bargained for. The other retiree costs were never funded when the work occured to begin with.

    In addition, the MTA got a temporary windfall of real estate transfer taxes, never to recur, and blew the whole thing.

    What to know what the MTA fraud is? For 15 years the agency has had either “balanced budgets” or “surpluses,” with the politicians accusing it of having even greater surpluses, and yet it is $30 billion in debt. If it had a surplus, how come the debt soared instead of going down? I know the reasons given by all New York goverments, not just the MTA, for that. But it is fraud, pure and simple — the state legislature is in on it, and younger generations are the victims.

  • Rhywun

    RE: How State Legislators Make Decisions That Affect New York City

    In addition to the state government being notoriously corrupt, upstate just loathes New York City. I know because I grew up there. The politicians quoted in the article are just being diplomatic. For example, the people themselves believe that NYC receives more in state taxes than it gives when of course the opposite is true. Also, they often express the desire to separate from downstate, thinking it would save their economy rather than devastate it even more.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Dealers are in trouble as addicts find they can get by with less.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aU6T1NWC9w_M&refer=home

    For those who haven’t been following this, there is widespread agreement that auto industry recovery requires a restructuring to allow profitability with a lower level of sales. That means fewer dealers selling fewer brands, especially at GM. Subsidies for dealers would prevent the herd from being culled.

    The dealers are complaining that the government is only subsidizing auto buyers, and not enough of them.

    “What this will add back is the near-prime buyers, who represent about 15 percent of the market, or 200,000 to 300,000 units,” said Johnson, who is based in Chicago. “If you add a modicum of sub-prime buyers, you could get up to 500,000 units. If this supports leasing, you could get to 1 million.”