Today’s Headlines

  • Obama Infrastructure Stimulus Plan: Ambitious, Still Vague (Grist, NYT)
  • Bill Thompson: Raising Car Registration Fees Could Net $1B/Year for MTA (NYT, News, Post)
  • Driver Kills Pedestrian Under FDR Drive in Harlem, Charged With Vehicular Manslaughter (News)
  • Reduced Transit Service Means Longer Trips for 1.3M Straphangers (News)
  • Bus Riders Fear Getting Stranded by MTA Cuts (NYT)
  • Kerry, Specter Introduce Bill to Fund High-Speed Rail (Boston Globe)
  • WaPo: Raise the Gas Tax
  • Is the Moment Ripe for a National Carbon Tax? (Grist)
  • Former Michigan Sen. Spencer Abraham: Save Detroit (NYT)
  • Post Gives DOT Brass the Lee Sander Treatment
  • Larry Littlefield

    Challenged to show they can be viable, Detroit asks for federal subsidies for the purchase of their existing low-mileage models.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122748604693051785.html

    We need to burn more oil to maintain our infrastructure without congestion taxing, Weiner and Brodsky say.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122728664289448183.html

    And homebuilders ask for $250 million in exurban McMansion subsidies. Others want mortgage writdowns to give homeowners equity they can borrow against again, to purchase more big screen TVs.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122748520112251743.html

    As for Thompson, the MTA needs $4 billion per year, including the capital program, so why is he proposing $1 billion a year (actually less because the sort of people who are like our state elected officials just register their cars extra like they do for insurance) solution?

  • Streetsman

    Must be annoying and embarrassing as a public official to have your salary published in the papers (and the Post is always happy to oblige). But I have to say, while those numbers are more than most New Yorkers make, they are surprisingly low. Not one member of the senior staff seems to be making more than $200k, whereas in a private sector company they’d all be making over 1/2 a mil. Of course that’s not considered a realistic basis for comparison, but when you think about how many employees report to the First Deputy Commissioner, how much legal responsibility the Director of Traffic Operations has, and the amount of money, staff, and liability managed by the Chief Engineer of the Bridges Division, it’s amazing they can get competitive candidates for those jobs at these salaries.

  • fdr

    Every city employee’s salary is a matter of public record, and the complete list is on the NYC.gov web site (as of 2007) at http://www.nyc.gov/html/records/pdf/govpub/CIVIL_LIST_2007_Public.pdf. I think we can assume that some lower level worker who didn’t get a raise alerted the Post that the higher ups were getting raises. The Commissioner makes about $175,000, so obviously no one is going to be making anywhere near $200K.

  • fdr

    Correction: the Commissioner must be making more than $180K now, since the First Deputy Commissioner, according to the Post, got a raise to 180.

  • The NYT article “Bus Riders Fear Getting Stranded by MTA Cuts” is a good, if depressing read, helping to expose “working class New Yorkers drive to work” for the myth that it is.

  • Jeffrey Hymen

    I just renewed my car registration and it may be $30 per year for a two year minimum but with the added fees, it came to twice that. I almost junked the car before the old registration expired because I know that I am getting rid of it in the spring. Because drivers have to pay for two years, no matter what, my new registration is really like $20 per month, not the stated $30 per year. So I flinched when I heard Comptroller Thompson’s proposed increase in the cost as a funding mechanism for the MTA. I do like, however, the link between car owning/driving and funding for mass transit.

  • It makes no sense(unless you’re Rupert Murdoch) to go after the MTA brass. Even if Sander worked for free it wouldn’t be enough to change anything. The private sector pays a way more and to attract qualified managers and staff the MTA has to offer competitive pay. The lack of competitive pay for government jobs leads to a revolving door of consultants and lobbyists who use their short time in government to make connections and game the system. What would the Post prefer? A hardworking, smart, honorable manager of a huge transit bureaucracy who does it all for free? Would you like fries and a pony with that? The idea that civil servants should work for nothing AND do a better job while they’re at it is insane. Maybe the post could round up some unqualified railfans to run the system into the ground for free.

  • J. Mork

    Jeffrey —

    The the Times article says that “drivers now pay $30 every two years to register a vehicle in New York City, though they also pay additional state fees.”

  • Tom
  • Jeffrey Hymen

    Mork, I read that and just wanted to quantify that “additional fees” was in my case equal to the registration not, say, an extra ten bucks.

    On the subject of civil servant salaries, I heard a rumor that the mayor, who often issues an executive order giving managers a cost of living adjustment equal to that in the DC37 contract, is not going to do so this go round. Jealousy is ugly, so I won’t say anything snarky about the senior management at DOT getting theirs while the getting was good.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Anything that raises the cost of the automobile can be counted as a good thing. However, there are two problems with the Thompson proposal, one political, the other practical. First, increased registration fees have a poor history politically having gone down in flames in Virginia, dragging a Governor down with them over a $15 increase in registration fees and Oregon to similar effect. Second, increasing the registration fee, like increases in insurance prices and vehicle costs, increases the fixed cost of owning a vehicle. Congestion pricing, on the other hand, increases the marginal cost of operating a vehicle. To the extent that total cost contains and increase ratio of fixed to marginal cost the owner is more inclined to drive the vehicle. And, vice versa, as congestion pricing intended. And congestion pricing also came with decongestion economies that probably saved more than $100M in bus operating cost (driver productivity), someone has to account for that somewhere.

  • fdr

    The Post printed that rumor a couple of weeks ago that the Mayor won’t give raises to managers. Seems they are on top of the story, for what it’s worth.