Chuck Schumer on Transit: I’ve Got Your Back, Fairfield County
New York’s senior senator threw suburban train riders a bone yesterday, announcing that he’s secured a tax break for transit commuters in the Senate version of the stimulus bill. The Daily News reports:
The provision would raise the monthly cap on mass transit commuting
costs not taxed by the federal government to $230 from $120.
commuter in the 30% tax bracket with mass transit costs of $230 a month
could see annual savings double to about $1,000 from about $500,
according to Larry Filler, president of the nonprofit TransitCenter.
This is great if you ride to work on the LIRR or Metro-North. But what if your transit commute already costs less than $120 per month? New Yorkers who ride the subway or the local bus to work — millions of Schumer’s constituents — get nothing out of this deal. Express bus riders, who pay $41 for an all-inclusive weekly pass, get next to nothing.
As for maintaining service and transit jobs in the face of sweeping cuts to New York City’s system, Schumer’s proposal is utterly useless.
Schumer has the opportunity here to speak out for straphangers in New York and around the country by calling for transit operating assistance to be included in the stimulus package. His erstwhile junior colleague, Hillary Clinton, introduced a bill in the Senate to fund transit operations back in the summer. Over in the House, Oregon’s Peter DeFazio made an all-out effort to get operating assistance into the stimulus bill — going so far as to criticize the president’s top economic adviser on national television — before ultimately falling short.
Meanwhile, Chuck Schumer brags about helping Westchester, Nassau, and Fairfield, while leaving commuters in the five boroughs to fend for themselves.