Today’s Headlines

  • State Senate MTA Plan Hasn’t Overcome Opposition to Payroll Tax (NYT, News)
  • Malcolm Smith Says He Has the Votes to Pass It (Politicker, Journal News)
  • Senate GOP Isn’t Budging, Except Maybe Frank Padavan (Daily Politics, Post)
  • Paterson: Plan Is ‘Worth Considering’ (Daily Politics)
  • Taxi Lobby Up in Arms Over Cab Fare Surcharge (NY1)
  • NY State Stim Projects Are Tough to Track (MTR)
  • Blessing Cyclists, for Safety and Forgiveness (City Room)
  • Eight Bus Lines Re-Routed for Broadway Ped Plan (Post)
  • Virginia DOT Tries Zig-Zag Pavement Paint Job to Calm Traffic (WashCycle via Streetsblog.net)
  • Portland’s New Climate Action Plan Calls for Drastically Less Driving by 2050 (Portland Transport)
  • Glenn

    Hello, it’s Earth Day.

    Things that should go back on the table immediately:

    1. Bridge Tolls
    2. Gas taxes

    Failing that, I’m sort of thinking that the only thing that will shake people out of their complacency is to have the fare increases and service cuts implemented.

    If I were a Senator or Assemblymember from Manhattan, I would vote against the “plan” proposed by Smith.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “I remain opposed to the imposition and use of a payroll tax,” said Senator Craig M. Johnson of Nassau County, one of the four Democratic rebels. The three others, Brian X. Foley of Suffolk County, and Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Suzi Oppenheimer of Westchester County, also said they still opposed the tax. The senators said the tax would be a burden on businesses and public employers like school districts.”

    I agree, but unlike these legislators — who I won’t flame otherwise became I know that at least two of them just got there recently after the damage was already done — I have a solution.

    Tolls – where they aren’t, not higher tolls where they are. Charge for those occupying scarce space in Manhattan during the day, not more to those moving over the outer bridges in the middle of the night.

    Fare hikes, and short term service cuts. Doomsday isn’t doomsday, with the possible exception of reduced maintenance. It’s paying back the riders share of the hole, for all those years the inflation-adjusted cost of the fare was falling.

    Having public employees, including MTA employees, pick up the cost of their pensions above a certain reasonable amount, and having those who retired a left a huge hole behind pay a higher share of their retiree health care.

    Forcing contractors to accept lower prices, no matter what it takes, including shutting the capital plan down for years. The MTA is not a Manhattan luxury condo, and everyone in that industry — unions to companies to the mafia — shouldn’t expect to pay like they were working for billionaries, especially in recession when luxury condos aren’t going up.

    And MOST IMPORTANTLY, having all transportation revenues used for transportation, with the MTA (and the road system) living off existing revenues. Those revenues would not be used for the massive debts and unfunded past retiree obligations left behind by Generation Greed.

    Those past debts and obligations should be repaid (for roads as well as transit), if at all, by having retirement income (in the state and city income tax) taxed at the same rate as wage income. Same income, same tax. That isn’t a tax hike for the retired. It is tax fairness for everyone else, including those in younger generations who might never be able to retire until they can’t work anymore, at which time they will live in poverty.

    And in case people try to run from the debts they have created, there should be a massive “exit tax” on those selling property — an additional real estate transfer tax that is refundable if you buy other property in the state. Die or move out? Leave a piece of your money behind to go with your debts.

    Finally, no more borrowing for ongoing normal replacement — and no more shirking ongoing normal replacement. Borrowing for new starts only, and only with a referedum, which is what the state constitution says.

    I wrote all this more than a year ago. They will do anything but, because of who they represent. Or do nothing and bring about an institutional collapse, putting it off as long as possible while they grab more. They don’t make decisions, they make non-decisions and do deals. Which I why I don’t waste people’s time by writing about what they should do on Room Eight anymore. It is more useful to think about how to react to what they will do.

  • J. Mork

    I agree, Glenn. The current plan is asinine. Fare hikes would be preferable. The Kheel-Komanoff plan is obviously the best, but I don’t see how that can gain politital traction considering how closed-minded our leaders are.

    I still think the best option would be bridge tolls and a medium-sized fare hike. This at least sends the message that drivers are responsible for something besides themselves and gives the Senate Republicans something to vote on that’s not a payroll tax.

    Car rentals shouldn’t have anything to do with daily commuting and neither should taxis fund upstate roads. When the Smith plan passes, it will be a sad and stupid day.

  • Glenn

    What I will enjoy most about the implementation of the Doomsday plan is watching all those cars try to cram onto the “free” bridges.

    What a pyrric victory this will be for motorists from Brooklyn & Queens and Long Island. They will have to choose between a $8-10 toll on the Tri-Boro RFK Bridge or wait an hour and half for the Queensboro bridge.

    All becauce they fell for Albany’s Sucker Populism!

  • Larry Littlefield

    By the way, the MTA’s Metrocard “discount” policy is fraudulent. It implies you are getting a deal — the fare is $2.00, but they are giving you extra money.

    Instead, the fare should be $2.00, but when you pay $20.00 to buy a Metrocard only $16.00 of value should go on it, with the rests going to a “sins of the past” surcharge. Then people can understand that their MTA dollars are NOT going to their transportation.

  • RE: State Senate MTA Plan Hasn’t Overcome Opposition to Payroll Tax

    The comments in the Daily News are typical of what we can expect from Joe Sixpack regarding a payroll tax. They refect a genuine concern that we are overtaxed in NYS, but they don’t get the full picture. There’s the usual “I drive everywhere so why should I have to pay” and then there’s “I’ll move to NJ and everything will be rainbows”. Both equally delusional but what can you expect after sixty years of running the show this way.

  • Boris

    Larry,

    Googling “generation greed” brings up Room Eight as the first hit. Searching for the phrase on Amazon brings up nothing related. When are you going to write a book called “Generation Greed”? Appear on TV? Get the word out to the masses? Here on Streetsblog you are just preaching to the choir.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (When are you going to write a book called “Generation Greed”?)

    Hey, Generation Greed controls publishing too. And I’ve been advised by people who know publishing that unless you are someone famous, with some kind of self promotion hook and a publicist, no one is going to even look at the book you write.

    That’s what I like about the internet — no one can stop you. If people don’t want to hear for nothing, they aren’t likely to pay. And once you are getting paid, what you are allowed to say depends on who pays you.

  • Jason A

    “Here on Streetsblog you are just preaching to the choir.”

    Larry, you should consider cross posting some of your Streetsblog comments over at Gothamist. That’s the audience of young people that really needs to hear what you advocate…

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Generation Greed was say “when you’ve got nothing you’ve got nothing to lose” Larry.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “You should consider cross posting some of your Streetsblog comments over at Gothamist. That’s the audience of young people that really needs to hear what you advocate.”

    They’ve cited my posts once or twice, and I used to comment every now and then before the registration screen went up. But by and large the audience of young people is probably more interested in celebrity gossip than anything I have to say. As the consequences come due, they’ll be easily hearded up to shift the blame in some random direction.

    What bothers me is the indifference of people my age and older with more of a pro-future perspective. Maybe they’re just frustrated with being on the losing end of the (fiscal, environmental, etc) argument for 30 years, and are now more focused on the well being of their own family. I guess that’s been my perspective since some recent last straws. The answer to the MTA’s problems (and others) is to ride a bicycle, and reconsider where it might be best for the next generation to live once it is on its own.

    Some of them make some noise. There’s nothing I have to say that hasn’t been said by others, and heard by anyone willing to pay attention.

  • That’s what I like about the internet — no one can stop you.

    Actually, Larry, our developers are hard at work on a Larry Littlefield filter for use here on Streetsblog. Sometimes less is more!

  • Stephen Collier

    Has anyone ever proposed limiting tolls to trucks, at least in an initial phase? I would prefer that they be imposed on all vehicles, but trucks-only would have a couple advantages:

    (1) It would be more politically palatable
    (2) It would have some revenue benefits
    (3) It would create the infrastructure of toll collection that could be…eh…applied to other purposes later on
    (4) It would address some of the most perverse elements of the current system (written about many times on streetsblog) by removing incentives for trucks to be funneled onto the free bridges

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Actually yes Stephen, its a big favorite of Anthony Weiner. It is a strong spoke in the “let someone else pay” wheel.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Actually, Larry, our developers are hard at work on a Larry Littlefield filter for use here on Streetsblog. Sometimes less is more!”

    Yes, I agree less at this point is more. At some point you just end up repeating yourself to no effect.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    I used to howl at the moon, now I’m really into blogging.