Victory for the Fare Hike Four: Transit Riders Will Pay More for Less

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Because a handful of state senators representing New York City refused to back a credible plan to fund our transit system, the MTA’s March 25th deadline has come and gone without any reprieve for everyone who relies on subways and buses. Head over to City Room for scenes from the final act.

Pedro Espada photo: John DeSio

  • These guys just lack the political will and courage to lead. They think that the fare hike won’t get traced back to them since most people will blame the MTA. All they care about is looking good and getting reelected… they don’t care about the city or the people. Being a leader means making tough choices and having the communication skills to explain these choices to the people.

    Carl Kruger, Ruben Diaz Sr., Pedro Espada Jr. and Hiram Monserrate just don’t know how to do this. When will we have real leadership that doesn’t treat us like we’re too dumb to understand that trains aren’t free and tolls are used to fund things? When will we have leaders who know the difference between and expenses and income? Leaders who know that most of their constituents depend on mass transit not driving?

    I’m so sick of this.

  • Glenn

    You know, I have to admit I was wrong on the political landscape during the whole congestion pricing debate. It’s much worse than even I ever thought in Albany.

    I really thought there was a fundamental problem with the Mayor and the Campaign for NY’s future framing the congestion pricing revenue as going toward the capital plan instead of partly offsetting the fare or increasing the current level of service. I thought if they could say that these tolls would lock-in the current fare for 10 years or something like that, it would be something that politicians would move on.

    Certainly we go a lot closer this time with Silver actually agreeing to tolling the bridges (thanks to Paul Newell IMHO).

    But this in many ways could be the defining moment. The moment where people stop relying on mass transit for regular trips. The moment where emptier stations become dangerous ones, rife with criminal activity. The moment where working folks decide to decamp from the city to the suburbs – if it’s going to take an hour and a half to get home on the bus and subway, you might as well have a yard and 3 bedrooms.

    Or it could be the moment where a real forward thinking coalition of legislators does what is right. Pass the Ravitch commission plan in spite of the Fare Hike Four and establish a working majority on sustainable transportation funding.

    Dean Skelos, we’re all looking at you now.

  • I completely agree with you Susan. These so called “leaders” clearly exemplified their inability to do just that. While I was not a big fan of the Ravitch Commission proposals, I understood that they were the best options available now.

    What saddens me is that I feel the blame game will play out the same way it always does. The general riding public will point to the MTA & say it is their fault. The sentiment from a good percentage of riders will concentrate on the supposed double books allegation from almost 6 years ago. They will hammer on the wealth of the MTA Board members, etc…..

    I can’t stand to think that the so called leaders in Albany will in many ways get a free pass due to the past transgressions (alleged or found to be true) of past MTA leadership. The public relations battle is something Albany has in its favor at the moment & one could argue always did when it comes to the MTA.

    Until the general riding public understands how things really work, we will see the same anti-transit officials being elected & the blame shifted in the wrong direction.

  • The fare hike is incredible and I fear that is only the beginning of what’s to come. MTA says that if the state chooses to bail them out, then they can restore service and lower fares. What a load of crap. By that time 1000s of people will have already been laid off and it will be much harder to reverse. Folks on my blog http://www.brooklynbybike.com/mta-to-approve-fare-hikes/ have reminded me that we still pay much less than our European counterparts. I guess there is some comfort in knowing that. Bike to work…show the MTA!

  • Barnard

    Were Carl Kruger, Ruben Diaz Sr., Pedro Espada Jr. and Hiram Monserrate at the MTA hearing this morning to offer their plan to save the 8,000,000 daily transit riders from higher fares and worse service?

  • Larry Littlefield

    “The moment where working folks decide to decamp from the city to the suburbs.”

    Don’t worry — the suburbs are going down too, and harder. They already are.

    When they rebenchmarked current employment survey data (new data released by BLS March 19), they found that NYC lost 45,800 jobs in the year to December 2008 rather than the previously expected 53,600. The suburbs as a whole lost 106,600 jobs rather than the previously expected 66,700. Real estate prices are falling faster out there too.

    If I were you, I wouldn’t move to the suburbs if you plan to work in Manhattan. The end game is a transit shut down, with a partial service restoration in the only part of the system with a chance to cover its costs — the subway. Better be able to take the subway and tough enough to suffer, or in a position to walk or bicycle.

    I don’t think people will be going to the suburbs this time. Another metro area entirely is more like it. Canada?

  • What is it going to take to get some serious primary challenges together?

  • James

    Larry, I don’t agree. The “end game” is just not going to happen. The metro area is too much of a cash cow for the NY, NJ, and CT for a regional transit shutdown to be a possibility. There’s too much money here, even with the current crisis, and too many wealthy MNCR and LIRR commuters who can afford the higher fees. The region as a whole also too dense to function effectively without transit. All of the highways and parkways would be permanent parking lots on a scale that would make LA look empty without transit. As absolutely terrible as this is, I don’t think things will pan out quite so severely.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Larry, I don’t agree. The “end game” is just not going to happen.”

    The shutdown end game involves massive deterioration due to the failure to fund ongoing normal replacement — and the small number of actual expansions that would provide the system with some flexibility.

    If Generation Greed won’t pony up to prevent a fare hike in three months, what do you think it will do about capital investment and maintenance that won’t hurt for several years, now they can’t just borrow anymore?

  • rex

    Greg, getting the average N’ Yorker to really look at something, like a politician, is like spreading frozen cream cheese: It is hard to do. It has an unpredictable outcome. And it will likely ruin your bagel.

  • Roberto C. Tobar

    Larry’s right – people won’t just move to the suburbs. Look at what’ll happen to Long Island. They’ll be much worse off than the city. If someone had to choose between moving there and staying in the city, they should vote to stay in the city. They’ll be paying bargain-basement prices for their mass transit compared to us here in L.I.

  • Aaron Berkman

    Those four are the ones that have the courage to lead..

    The MTA can easily cut out the LIRR to Gran Central Station program which will cost US 15.2 billion dollars, and then use that money for its operations, and debt service. The choices being presented to the City are false. We don’t have to choose between Tolls or service cuts and fare hikes. We can just spend less on massive additional projects that the system doesn’t need.

    Instead of the Grand Central LIRR program, we can save the 15.2 billion dollars, maintain service and give LIRR riders free transfers at Atlantic Avenue to the subway, while retaining the Pen station subway fare. Trains on the IRT can start at Atlantic Avenue which has the subway capacity. That will encourage riders to use the under utilized Brooklyn LIRR Terminal ending any need for an LIRR extension and providing full service for everyone. Simple enough? Not if you work for Bloomberg and want to use the MTA as a wedge to get tolls on the Brooklyn Bridge.

  • Aaron:

    You are way off base. Projects such as the LIRR’s East Side Access come from their capital program budget. They can’t just take funds from that budget & use it for their operations budget. Some of their capital program money is from the federal government & there are rules in place for what it can & can’t be used for.

    While I feel there are more important projects than the LIRR’s East Side Access program, they are needed for our system to match the growth it has undergone.

  • Aaron Berkman

    Your way off. Money is money and the cause of the operating budget increase in the debt service on the capital projects. Stopping the LIRR project right now means they can use that money for other things. As for we needing it, we don’t need it and it serves no useful propose to New Yorkers. If LI people want it, they can pay for it out of their own taxes and maybe then NY might consider it.

    Blah…

  • ceo

    Gee

    Here we have a bunch of supposedly intelligent people…

    You would think that normally intelligent people could actually understand
    that when the MTA takes on a bunch of non-critical capital programs that
    run into the billions of dollars that it might have to make CAPITAL cutbacks in order to maintain safe, swift and clean subway service. Its too much for this group to comprehend.

  • Nathanael

    Talking about “way off”….

    once you’ve started a big tunneling project, you’d probably better finish it. Stopping in the middle is a recipe for wasting *extra* money.

    Put this in economic terms: the money already spent is *sunk costs*. Given the *sunk costs*, the cost/benefit ratio for building East Side Access is really really excellent. Similar math applies to the Second Avenue Subway. Both are already reusing infrastructure built in previous eras where the costs were sunk long ago — which is why the math works out well on both.

    The fact that much of the money for both is actually coming from other sources, like the federal government, and can’t be used for anything else, only adds to this.

    Now, the 7 line extension should have been killed before they started digging tunnel. Now that they’ve started, they might as well finish, though we can wish that it would take a reasonable route allowing for appropriate stations.

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