Fare Hike Four Open Door to Suburban Copycats

It seems like only yesterday that the three men emerged from their room with vague talk of an emerging scheme to spare transit riders — temporarily, at least — the pain of fare hikes and service cuts required, minus help from Albany, to keep the MTA afloat. But as the Times reports, a new development would catch the triumvirate flat-footed.

At a meeting later in the afternoon with Mr. Paterson, a group of senators from suburban districts told him they would not support the payroll tax.

The senators were Craig M. Johnson of Nassau County, Brian X. Foley of Suffolk County, and Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Suzi Oppenheimer, both of Westchester County.

"I’m very uncomfortable with the proposed payroll tax," Mr. Foley said later in an interview. "Suffolk County is in the outer ring of the service area. Our businesses would be paying into a system that they don’t get much out of."

Both the Times and Daily News point out that opposition to the payroll tax is not unexpected. Now that it’s out in the open, however, lawmakers are reportedly scrambling, with Sheldon Silver suggesting that a "little time out would be helpful." Before the breakdown, everything from higher vehicle registration fees to a 50-cent cab surcharge was said to be under consideration.

Amid the chaos, one thing appears certain. Said a spokesman for Malcolm Smith to the Times: "Everything [is] still on the table ‘except tolls.’"

  • da

    Now that bridge tolls are “off the table”, and a payroll tax is “off the table”, I think a fare hike and service cuts should be “off the table” as well.

    Great how one option for raising revenue is to increase the taxes and fees on rental cars, which presumably would fall mainly on NYers who do not own cars and rely on public transit. Can’t ask for a single dime from car owners!

  • “Everything [is] still on the table ‘except tolls.'”

    We will consider every possible tax except the environmentally sound tax on polluters.

    We will tax your payroll, tax your income, tax your retail purchases, but don’t worry about anything, because we won’t tax your driving.

  • glenn

    Again I ask “Where is the Manhattan caucus?”

    They should stand up and unite against the narrow-minded suburban and Outerborough legislators.

  • vnm

    Indeed, where is the Manhattan caucus? I think a lot of people had hoped for a lot from newly elected State Senator Dan Squadron, whose primary victory promised to breathe fresh life into calcified Albany. Instead, we got the following, from his remarks at the MTA’s Jan. 14 public hearing on fare hikes and service cuts:

    I do not support the proposal to toll bridges along the East River. They would not just divide my district. They would divide the entire city. We have better options.

    Such as???

  • Are service cuts to the LIRR on the table? Which LIRR lines will be cut entirely to mirror the loss of the W and Z lines?

  • Glenn

    Exactly Mark – Maybe we need a separate fund for each area to contribute to sustaining service in their area. With no interference from the state gov’t unless they are willing to pony up

  • Mike

    Mark, they’re cutting weekend service on the West Hempstead branch and making service hourly on the Port Washington branch off-peak. Maybe others too.

  • Squadron represents a part of Brooklyn where a fair number of wealthy people own cars (or at least, that’s my educated guess). This isn’t terribly surprising, but disappointing nonetheless.

  • Jason A

    “Amid the chaos, one thing appears certain. Said a spokesman for Malcolm Smith to the Times: “Everything [is] still on the table ‘except tolls.'”

    Knowing what we know about climate change, peak oil and the countless examples of environmental ruin caused by our nation’s devotion to cars, it’s pathetic transit-rich nyc can not pass this most moderate restriction on automobiles…

  • You guys are funny. Car owners pay much much more than transit riders. You want them to pay MORE? They pay for their vehicle, sales tax on the vehicle, gas, gas tax, maintenance, insurance, registration, inspection. Thats just required! It doesn’t include, car washes, possible traffic tickets and fines, parking fees, TOLLS and TOLL ROADS. And what do you pay? 2? or $81 a month for a metrocard? GET SERIOUS.

    Also, don’t pretend that the Z or W trains are important, they are just redundant subway lines. The Z is useless and the W will be replaced by the Q in Astoria.

  • Ian Turner

    Sonic,

    Nobody is saying that driving is cheap, but the reality is that in the united states, the government subsidizes driving to the tune of 65 cents per gallon of gas. But that’s not all; drivers create serious negative externalities, including pollution, noise, and deadly crashes. If these were all included in the cost of driving, you can be sure it would be a lot less common than it is.

    By the way, it’s true that the subway is extremely cheap, and there’s no good reason not to demand that the maintenance and capital expansion of the system survive on fares alone. But if subway subsidies are to be cut in such a way, then also auto subsidies and externalities must be priced into the cost of driving.

  • “drivers create serious negative externalities, including pollution, noise, and deadly crashes. If these were all included in the cost of driving, you can be sure it would be a lot less common than it is.”

    Isn’t that what insurance is for? When it comes pollution, drivers do not create it, the vehicles do. They can make no-emission vehicles, but the government cant’ find ways to tax it enough so they won’t be mass produced until then. As for noise, Trains and Buses are noisy as well.

    What auto subsidies are you thinking of?

  • Car owners pay much much more than transit riders. You want them to pay MORE?

    Drivers damage the environment much more than transit users, pedestrians and cyclists. Someone has to pay to clean up that damage.

    They can make no-emission vehicles, but the government cant’ find ways to tax it enough so they won’t be mass produced until then.

    It’s not just the emissions, or even the waste of precious fuel. It’s the tons and tons of junk that can’t be recycled. It’s the inefficient use of space. It’s the carnage. Even a car that ran on farts and produced pure drinking water would be an environmental disaster.

  • Ian Turner

    Sonic,

    It seems rather strange to me that you want to regulate automobile emissions by fiat, rather than by market pricing, but you don’t feel the same way about land use decisions. What is the different? Both create externialities that must be accounted for.

    Automobile insurance premiums don’t pay for the complete cost of auto drivers’ carnage, because of the combination of fault laws, uninsured motorists, and a focus on liability. If someone dies, there is no medical expense and therefore no liability.

    Drivers who operate polluting vehicles are responsible for the effects of this pollution. It won’t be prevented or mitigated by the planting of trees; automobiles emit deadly particles that cause asthma and cancer as well as contributing to global warming.

    As regards noise pollution, anyone who works or lives near a busy street can attest that the noise from private vehicles far exceeds that from public transport vehicles, even though the latter category transports perhaps ten times as many passengers.

    Financial to automobile owners include the design, construction, and maintenance of roads, parking garages, street parking, and traffic signals, signage, and other control devices; law enforcement and safety services; zoning that requires attached parking; and the administration and planning for all these services. M. A. Delucchi goes into this question in great detail in his paper, “Do motor-vehicle users in the US pay their way?”. Although a lot of taxes and fees are assessed on drivers, public expense nonetheless exceeds public income in this realm. Note that this analysis does not include the negative externialities discussed earlier.

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