The Latest in Piecemeal Transit Funding

State legislators are about to head home for the Easter and Passover holiday, leaving transit riders to twist in the wind a while longer without an MTA funding plan in place. Martin Malave Dilan, chair of the State Senate’s transportation committee, gave Politicker’s Jimmy Vielkind one last debriefing before the legislative break:

"We were really trying to get something done, but this ‘rush’
thing really doesn’t work," he said. "Basically, what’s on the table is
a $25 [auto] registration fee for the 12 counties; there’s also a
possibility of an additional cent or two [on the gas tax] within the 12
county region."

Dilan said nothing is final; both proposals have been floated before.

A payroll tax is still on the table, according to Dilan, somewhere
in the neighborhood of 34 cents per $100 of payroll. Previously, some
members of his Democratic conference have expressed reservations about that measure, and Dilan said they are "looking at doing an exemption for education."

If the modest registration fee and tiny gas tax hike are really what’s on the table instead of bridge tolls, then we’re in trouble. A one-cent raise in the gas tax would generate an estimated $24 million per year. Bill Thompson projected that his weight-based vehicle fee proposal would raise $1 billion, but that’s with a $100 charge for the smallest cars and $400-plus for behemoths like the Lincoln Navigator. A $25 average hike pales in comparison.

The ideas Dilan bats around don’t add up to any more than $200 million per year, even if you put a rosy spin on the numbers. Shelly Silver’s toll plan would likely raise more than twice that amount for the MTA (plus a hefty sum for bridge maintenance). Who knows what the transportation committee is doing behind closed doors, but they don’t seem to be hard at work crafting a solid financial foundation for our transit system.

  • Aaron Berkman

    Who said it is the job of the state fund the MTA with any amount of funding they deem necessary? I don’t want to fund the MTA like that.

  • Still no progress on MTA funding?! This is simply sad. Is the windshield perspective of most state legislators really so blind to miss the millions that rely on the MTA for all transportation? Shove all the state legislators into one subway car for a few stops, then make them transfer across the platform at any station in disrepair (i.e. most of them) and they’ll change their tune.

  • Ian Turner

    Aaron,

    How would you determine how much funding is necessary? The overall cost of operating the subway is much lower than in many other cities, what makes you think it should be lower still, in a place known for its high cost of living?

  • Dave

    Toll baby toll…

    Recent legislation was passed at the federal level that makes it illegal to favor locals over out-of-staters when it comes to tolls (something about interstate commerce) so Staten Islanders and Rockaway residents will eventually lose their toll discounts.
    So the argument that there should be tolls between the boroughs becomes even more specious…the local legislators that refuse to consider even a $2 toll (well, now $2.50) to match MTA fares have their heads in the sand.
    Want to fund the MTA and reduce traffic? Here are two easy ideas in addition to tolls:
    – Reintroduce Sunday parking meters. The fact that this was based on church-goers is baloney and I am surprised that Jews and Muslims have not sued; completely favors one religion over another.
    – Introduce permit parking. Curb space is not free to the city so why is it given away for free?

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