Watch Your Wallet, Straphangers – It’s Budget Season In Albany

With one month until a budget is due (admittedly not the strictest deadline in Albany), Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature have to close a deficit nearing $10 billion. Since Cuomo has ruled out any new taxes, he hasn’t left himself with many options. So there’s no doubt that further incursions on dedicated transit funds are at least on the table, and that this year’s raids could cost even more than the $160 million taken last year.

The best hope for transit is to raise the political price of raiding dedicated funds. Cuomo and the legislature have to realize that every time they steal the MTA’s dedicated funds, they’re pushing more service cuts, more fare hikes, and a return to 70s-style disrepair on transit riders. And they have to be convinced that straphangers realize it too.

To help build that pressure, Transportation Alternatives’ Rider Rebellion has launched a new campaign urging transit riders to “Watch Your Wallet.” DNAinfo reports on yesterday’s “mobile protest,” where T.A. alerted riders on the A train.

T.A. urged subway riders to contact Cuomo and warn him against another raid on the MTA. You can e-mail the governor here to tell him not to steal from transit to pay for the state’s budget woes.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “The best hope for transit is to raise the political price of raiding dedicated funds.”

    And the best way to REDUCE that political price is to allow the raids to be offset with diminished maintenance and ongoing normal replacement, thus deferring the impact on riders, rather than service cuts and fare increases. And you’d better believe that is exactly what those in Albany want to do.

    Those who call for such measures, including the Straphangers and the TWU, are cooperating in a “return to 70s-style disrepair on transit riders” without accountability. They need to be forced to face up to that themselves.

  • If only the City Council got as mad about transit fare hikes as they do about an increase in on-street parking meter rates.

  • JK

    Larry, you’re pretty realistic about politics. Do you think a rider advocacy group like Straphangers or Transportation Alternatives can tell the MTA (publicly or privately) that it has to impose fare hikes and service cuts when the next dedicated fund raid happens? The MTA told Albany that hikes/cuts would happen if the state cut it’s $144m support for student Metrocards. The hikes and cuts happened, and all the MTA got was $20m and a victory dance by Shelly. Seriosly, if you were the head of Straphangers would you call up Walder and tell him to threaten cuts/hikes? This is not academic. Advocates are striving to come up with a response to potential dedicated raids, and that includes figuring out what the best thing the MTA could do.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Do you think a rider advocacy group like Straphangers or Transportation Alternatives can tell the MTA (publicly or privately) that it has to impose fare hikes and service cuts when the next dedicated fund raid happens?”

    No, but I would prefer they didn’t endorse preventing short term fare hikes and service cuts by resorting to deferred maintenance, deferred costs, advanced revenues, and greater debts. Thereby allowing Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos to say “see, no problem.” And two years later to say the ongoing collapse of transportation is due to “circumstances outside our control.”

  • vnm

    Eric, since transit fare levels are set by a State agency, the City Council is powerless to do anything except complain about them like everybody else. But the council does evidently have some potential control over parking meter rates.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Advocates and Unions to Cuomo: Put a Stop to Transit Raids

|
A broad coalition of good government groups, transit and environmental advocates, and unions sent a letter to Andrew Cuomo on Friday [PDF] urging the incoming governor to protect straphangers by ensuring that transit revenues are spent on transit. In the last year, Albany raids have shortchanged the MTA of more than $160 million, deepening a […]

Will Cuomo Sign the Transit Lockbox Bill?

|
The transit lockbox bill, which would require Albany to disclose the impacts of any raid of dedicated transit funds, passed both the Senate and Assembly unanimously in the final days of the legislative session, reports the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. It now heads to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s desk. A nearly identical bill reached Cuomo in 2011, […]

Can Andrew Cuomo Stop Albany From Raiding Transit Again?

|
Yesterday, City Council transportation committee chair Jimmy Vacca and leading transportation advocates sent a letter to New York state’s current leadership urging them not to raid the MTA’s dedicated funds to close an impending $315 million budget deficit. As long as the MTA’s finances are vulnerable to Albany incursions, transit riders will be at risk. […]