Yesterday, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio organized volunteers to campaign for student MetroCards at 20 subway stations across the city. We were encouraged by his decision to focus attention on legislators in Albany, and we had one big question: What funding solutions does the public advocate envision for the recession-battered MTA and the millions of riders who count on it?
Here’s the answer we just received from a de Blasio spokesperson:
Given the MTA’s current fiscal outlook, Public Advocate de Blasio believes that our City and State have to make tough choices. The Governor and the State Legislature should not reduce payroll taxes while forcing the City to pay more than its fair share, especially since upstate communities also benefit from the MTA. We should look at other options such as stimulus funding, weight based registration fees or reviving Speaker Silver’s proposal to impose bridge tolls that are tied to the cost of subway fares. But over the long term the MTA must be more accountable and responsible with managing its budget.
De Blasio supported East River bridge tolls in 2009, after voting "no" on congestion pricing as a City Council member the year before. Weight-based registration fees were first proposed by former city comptroller Bill Thompson in late 2008.
Bridge tolls were the missing element in the MTA funding package passed by Albany last spring. By signaling support for them now, de Blasio could create room for a more comprehensive transit funding solution than any other New York politician has put forward during the current crisis.