Where They Stand, Or Don’t: The MTA Doomsday Scorecard

1989178284_7f703f8137.jpgRhetorically speaking, it’s often easier to be against something than to stand in support of it. This could be why, with one or two possible exceptions, the political players in the MTA "doomsday" drama have so far gained the most media attention by, say, shouting down bridge tolls (Yay!) or getting a shoe shine (Boo!). Some prominent electeds, despite the grave importance of the issue at hand, have to this point largely stayed out of it — even those who, when they had congestion pricing to kick around, could scarcely be found without a microphone or camera in spittling distance.

So here’s a snapshot of where officials who have taken a stand are currently standing, with notable silences noted. Feel free to add to the list.

  • City Comptroller William Thompson, 2009 mayoral candidate, has urged the Ravitch Commission to recommend a new vehicle registration fee to benefit the MTA, along with a reinstatement of the commuter tax.
  • Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer supports reviving the commuter tax. In a recent newsletter Stringer described a fare hike as a "regressive tax increase."
  • Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz opposes East River bridge tolls. Poke.

  • City Council Member John Liu, who chairs that body’s transportation
    committee, supports an unspecified broad-based tax and a federal
    bailout for the MTA
    . He opposes East River bridge tolls.
  • City Council Members Eric Goia and David Yassky believe the MTA should be subject to an examination of finances and assets before instituting a fare hike.
  • Mayor Michael Bloomberg supports the commuter tax and bridge tolls (take that, Crain’s), but says the city will not increase its contribution to the MTA.
  • Congressman Anthony Weiner, 2009 mayoral candidate, is against East River bridge tolls. Weiner also opposed congestion pricing in lieu of
    yet-to-be-delivered federal funds.
  • Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who allowed congestion pricing to
    die without a vote, reportedly favors reinstating the commuter tax he
    also helped kill in 1999.
  • Assembly Member Richard Brodsky
    acknowledges the MTA needs money, but has kept quiet on where it should
    come from. Even when asked.

Meanwhile, anti-congestion pricing activists Jeffrey Dinowitz, Hakeem Jeffries, Denny Farrell, Rory Lancman and Jeff Klein, and fence-sitters Deborah Glick, Joan Millman, Dick Gottfried and Micah Kellner are, to our knowledge, MIA on the MTA meltdown.

Photo: mikek/Flickr

  • Larry Littlefield

    I oppose more taxes on wages, taxes on property, or taxes on jobs, higher fares, and service cuts. All would be worth it to keep a quality transportation system.

    But the game of chicken has gone long enough, and the debt are retiree obligations are so great, that it may be too late. It is likely to go to its logical conclusion — bankruptcy and shutdown — or the MTA is likely to limp along doing worse and worse until most agree that a bankruptcy and shutdown would have been preferable. The most selfish members of their generations have won.

    I stand next to a bicycle.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    During the congestion mitigation commission hearings, Brodsky repeatedly said that he disagreed with congestion pricing as a policy but agreed with Mayor Bloomberg that the state legislature had a responsibility to come up with solutions for traffic congestion and transit financing.

    Through his near total silence on these issues today, we now see that Brodsky never had any intention to try to address these problems or address transportation policy and financing in any substantial way. Brodsky’s only objective was to stick a thumb in the mayor’s eye and save his Westchester, car-commuting constituents a few bucks.

  • Surprise! Every elected official who represents a specific geographic area opposes measures that would require his constituents to pay more and/or supports measures that would require those who are not his constituents to pay more.

    To be fair, I guess Marty Markowitz (to use one example) is doing his job by opposing measures that would cost his some of his constituents money, but this just reinforces the need for leadership from Bloomberg and Paterson.

  • Yes, examine MTA’s finances and assets. This must be done before you start cutting services or charging people more for anything.

  • The MTA must not cut service or raise fares. The NYS Controller believes there are better ways to stem the budget deficit, such as through organizational changes. Channel 7 recently disclosed that certain work rules necessitate some workers receiving a full days pay for an hour or two of actual work. How many other inefficiencies are built into the system? These need to be corrected first.

    Planning Service Guidelines were instituted to assure that each route is provided with adequate levels of service. The MTA would use these guidelines to justify existing service levels when responding to claims that lines were underserved and to justify past service cuts.

    Now that ridership is at a 40 year high, and service cuts cannot be made under existing off-peak guidelines of a 100% seated load, the MTA arbitrarily changes the guidelines to 125% seated load which means that there will be four seats for every five people riding, on average. In other words, there will be a 20% chance you will have to stand for most of your trip during non-rush hours.

    Changes to these guidelines should require approval of the State Legislature, providing an incentive for the MTA to first remove its inefficiencies before taking such drastic actions as cutting service and raising the fare. These actions will chase away the new riders that it took so long to attract. We must never get back into that downward spiral of higher fares and less service resulting in fewer riders, less revenue and less maintenance before the cycle starts all over again.

  • paulb

    I have some doubts about the extra car registration fee. First, it’s not so hard to register a car out of state if you’ve got some relatives outside the city, or something like that.

    More important, if you raise the cost of merely owning a car, the owners may feel more impelled to drive it because they want to get use from it. And I don’t really object to people owning cars: it’s over-use that bothers me. I still think the bridge tolls and “congestion” (badly needs a new name) charge are the best ways to go.

  • beng722

    and Quinn? where does she stand?


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