Will the Transit-Riding Public Get a Fair Shake?

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Whatever your stance on the Ravitch Commission’s MTA rescue plan, the broad inequities of allowing New York transit service to deteriorate while fares rise 23 percent are stunning. The doomsday budget passed earlier this week would affect vastly more New Yorkers than bridge tolls or congestion pricing, burdening those who can least afford the added delay and expense.

The Regional Plan Association and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign came out with a strong one-two punch yesterday that frames this disparity in no uncertain terms, countering the shopworn drivel we’ve been hearing in defense of the "driving public."

These fact sheets from the RPA chart the doomsday service cuts by borough. The maps are helpful and alarming — visual confirmation that pretty much everyone who rides the train can expect longer waits and more crowded conditions. Bus riders from eastern Queens to lower Manhattan will see routes eliminated and less frequent service. I see that in my neighborhood, Windsor Terrace, the B75 is slated for extinction, shunting more riders onto the F train.

New Yorkers who would bear the brunt of these cuts, of course, outnumber those who would be asked to pay bridge tolls under the Ravitch plan. The gap is cavernous, as Tri-State shows in these fact sheets, updating its earlier analysis of congestion pricing impacts. In the Bronx, where pols balked at the Ravitch plan’s modest Harlem River bridge tolls, car-free households outnumber car owners by greater than 3 to 2. The margin is much larger when straphanging commuters are compared to solo drivers — 5 to 1. Even in Westchester, three times as many people commute to Manhattan by transit as by driving alone.

As ever, the populist "defense" of the driving public is a bunch of hokum that no reporter should let go unchallenged. Households without a car earn, on average, less than half what their car-owning counterparts make. Streetsbloggers know this already. What about everyone who gets their transportation news from the morning paper and the local network desk anchors?

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