Squadron: Responsibility for MTA Rescue Lies With Albany
State Senator-Elect Dan Squadron, whose district includes lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, released a statement this afternoon [PDF] in response to the MTA’s approval of its doomsday budget. Taking a different tack than fellow Chuck Schumer protegé Anthony Weiner, Squadron lays some responsibility for the health of our transit system at the feet of the state legislature:
Simply pointing fingers at the MTA will not keep the trains and buses running or keep fares affordable for riders. Accountability does not solely lie with the MTA — it sits squarely with all of us in government.
A real long-term solution has three essential elements: the legislature must make the tough decisions necessary to fund the MTA properly, the MTA must enact reforms to improve management and prevent fiscal crises from recurring in the future, and everyone who benefits from MTA services must be called on to contribute to the MTA’s long-term health.
The release eschews some of the less-than-credible suggestions Squadron made in an earlier press statement on the Ravitch Commission’s recommendations (ahem, "people movers" and monorail). The "tough decisions" he urges do not include tolling bridges, but he does refer to some form of congestion pricing. In a phone call with Streetsblog this afternoon, Squadron cited flexible boundaries and time-variable pricing as the major reasons he prefers congestion pricing. (Ravitch has stated that bridge tolls could also become time-variable.)
"I think that folks do feel that we’ve got a real responsibility to step up to the plate and do something big here," he said when I asked about his sense of where other legislators stand. "And whether that’s variable registration fees, or some form of congestion pricing, I do think that people are open to new funding streams that we’ve never successfully implemented in the past."