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MTA Big: Transit Is An “Inconvenience” Fit for “Common People”

amd_mack.jpgIn another PR coup for the MTA, board members yesterday asserted their worthiness for free toll and transit passes, a perk deemed illegal by State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and unseemly by virtually everyone who isn't a present or former board member. Vice Chair David Mack (pictured), a well-to-do Long Island developer, puts it in perspective for us:

"We're invaluable," Mr. Mack said, speaking to reporters during a break between meetings of two board committees that he heads, one on the Long Island Rail Road and Long Island Bus and the other on the authority's bridges and tunnels.

"If you saw something and called it in, it goes right there," he added, as he put his foot on top of a wastebasket. "When the normal public calls it in, you know what happens with the bureaucracy, they don't get the response that a board member would get."

But Mr. Mack, a Long Island resident who says he typically rides the railroad 5 to 10 times a year, said that if he had to pay, he might change his habits.

"Why should I ride and inconvenience myself when I can ride in a car?" he said.

Similarly, he said, without free E-ZPasses, some board members might use the city's free bridges and avoid the authority's tolled bridges and tunnels.

Mr. Mack also questioned Mr. Cuomo's motives on the issue.

"What he's trying to do was strictly a soap box, where it looks good to the common people," Mr. Mack said.

As the board heads for a potential split vote -- if not a conflict with the state -- Mack's enlightening comments, in addition to grabbing headlines, have prompted a call from the City Council for him to explain himself or else step down from the board.

Council Member Eric Gioia, of Queens, issued this statement in a press release today:

"Vice Chairman Mack should either clarify his statement or resign. With sentiment like that it is no wonder that the MTA is in such dire straits. His comments represent an absolute disdain for the very entity which serves millions of hardworking New Yorker every day who don't have a choice to just 'take their car.' This sense of entitlement and contemptuous thinking is what leads New Yorkers to rightly ask who is on their side at MTA headquarters." 

Photo: New York Daily News

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