Today’s Headlines

  • Beyond Doomsday: MTA Budget Hole May Spell End of 24-Hour Subways (NYT, Post, News, NY1)
  • Chrysler Expected to Declare Bankruptcy Today (NYT)
  • Albany Inaction Leading MTA to Borrow Against Next Year’s Revenue (Post)
  • Paterson Has New, Unspecified Ideas to Break Impasse on Transit Rescue (Politicker, Journal News)
  • News to Malcolm Smith: Stop Clowning Around With Transit Funding
  • Post: Let the Fare Rise
  • Another Crash on Brooklyn’s Eighth Ave… Will DOT Reverse the Curse? (Andy Bachman)
  • The Race to Succeed Morgenthau as Manhattan DA Is Underway (WNYC)
  • MTA Cuts Costs, Trims Accessibility Features From New 96th Street Station (Urbanite via Curbed)
  • Great Vid Pictures Kansas City as Walkable and Transit-Oriented (TC Streets via
  • Ride the rails, change the world! NY Times, Gail Collins: “…Besides reinforcing his commitment to mass transit, Biden’s commute also gave him hours and hours of uninterrupted quality time with the senator from Pennsylvania. Which he used to urge Specter to ditch the Republicans.”

  • Glenn

    I would like the MTA to do a full cost benefit analysis based on fares collected to cost of running the service so we can be very transparent about who’s subsidizing who and what the fares should cost in many areas of the outerboroughs. Then we can make decisions on which lines to keep running until the state legislature can get its act together.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Yesterday, the MTA decided to give itself 18 months to rebalance its current annual budget — just this once, it said. (State law requires the MTA to balance its budget annually.) This means the MTA is seeking to borrow money from next year to cover some of this year’s budget.”

    Now THAT is doomsday. I’d prefer a shutdown of the system and 200,000 job losses to that.

    The MTA just keeps accomodating the desire for something for nothing and adding to the debt. Meanwhile, our state leaders (and money others) blame everything on the agency (that it controls).

    This is madness.

  • Larry Littlefield

    By the way, the way they are going about the overnight shutdown planning is also insane.

    First of all, in much of the city the buses run empty all night (I’ve been told by managers in charge of operating them). That should be shut down first.

    Second, NYCT doesn’t have enough room to store the trains. (Perhpas because it has so many spares due to lots of routine maintenance not happening overnight). And those operating the trains constitute a small share of those running the system — the 430-plus stations are still manned, and so are the signal towers.

    They ought to be thinking about shutting half the stations, and running the equivalent of express service, closing tracks to allow safer maintenance. Which would you rather do in the middle of the night — walk to or from the next station, or wait 40 minutes between trains instead of 20?

  • “Which would you rather do in the middle of the night — walk to or from the next station, or wait 40 minutes between trains instead of 20?”

    Depends on where I am, personally.

  • Galls

    ow many union members does it take to change a light bulb?

  • RE: Let the Fare Rise

    Despite the Post’s typical distortion-ridden reporting style (the peak fare in central London is 1.60 using their version of a Metrocard, not 7.00), there is an argument to be made that the rider should fully cover the cost of operation. That means, what, a $3 fare? Not the end of the world.

    However, there is still the matter of the capital budget which is of course at the mercy of those nitwits in Albany. And the fact that all those bonds were allowed to saddle the operational budget with debt service.

  • I wrote about how the MTA can’t really end overnight service today. It’s a necessary complement to the over-the-top stories in the papers this morning.

  • vnm

    Larry, under the first doomsday budget, overnight service is being eliminated on 25 bus routes as of June 28, namely, the B7, B14, B31, B45, B48, B57, B64, B65, B67, B77, Bx10, M1, M2, M16, M22, M23, M42, M50, M66, M79, M96, M102, M103, M104, and Q30.

  • Glenn, I don’t think that would be a constructive idea…

    We used to have a 2-fare system. “2-fare zone” had the negative connotation of poor people who couldn’t afford to live near the subway. Getting rid of this system was a progressive policy; you are right that it subsidized outer borough residents.

    To go on a tangent, if anything I would say that we should be focusing more on outer boroughs in the long term, by skewing investment to areas where CURRENT usage may not be high enough, but future usage could be grown. I’ve commented here before that I think it’s ridiculous that there are plans to expand the 7 train into Manhattan. Expand it into Queens! Remember, when the subways were first built they went out to farmland.

    Sure, there are Archie Bunkers out there who want to preserve their quasi-suburbs, but there are also people who just want to live in a city but can’t afford Manhattan…

  • Sam

    Could someone explain to me why they don’t just get rid of unlimited cards (other than the PR issues)? According to the MTA’s own ad use of unlimited has lowered the fare to an average of 1.17. Clearly, Unlimiteds are losing the system money. How about, instead of raising the fare to 2.50, they make the fare ACTUALLY 2.00? No discounts, no unlimiteds. Why doesn’t anyone ever mention this?

  • Shutting down the subway at night would entirely change the nature of the City. How would people who work the night shift ever get home? How would the early shift get to work? What about nightlife?

    Once upon a time there were stores in the subway and advertising that must’ve brought in some revenue. Stations had newsstands, coffee shops, shoe repair shops, and even souvenir shops. There were vending machines and photo booths. Not only did these businesses pay rent but they also benefited riders and helped make the subways a safer place to be.

    Stations like West Fourth Street and Broadway Lafayette have mezzanines that are large enough to house bowling alleys, roller rinks, etc. Maybe it’s time to stop running the transit system like a Not For Profit organization and bring in some real estate agents who know how to turn a profit from some of the MTA’s valuable real estate.

  • J. Mork

    Sam —

    Actually, it’s not clear the the MTA is losing money on the unlimited cards. Another option is that even though the average fare is down, there’s more money coming in because more people are riding. This is pretty plausible because more people might ride on the weekends once they have an unlimited card which is also good because there would be fewer empty trains runnning, which is a waste of money.

  • Glenn

    Charley – In case you haven’t been following my rants here about how outerborough legislators are holding back the funding needed to sustain the system, let me summarize.

    1. A rational funding program (Ravitch/Silver) is proposed that relies on bridge tolls for funding.

    2. Outerborough legislators grandstand on both sides of the issue complaining that bridge tolls would put too much burden on outerborough residents, while also showing up at every protest against service cuts on a line in their district.

    3. Alternatives are proposed that seek to shift more of the burden back to Manhattan residents

    4. Either Manhattan pays or the system crumbles and/or fares go up.

    I would submit that many Manhattan bus and subway lines are near self sufficient from farebox revenue, while outerborough lines are largely subsidized by non-farebox revenue (like tolls). That would make it transparent to outerborough legislators that funding their mass transit needs require outside funding.

    but yeah, I agree with pushing the mass transit system out as far as possible would be great, once we save the current system from crumbling.

  • Sam

    J. Mork,

    You are right that it is good to have more people riding the trains in general but your logic that the MTA makes more money due to unlimiteds is flawed. Most people that buy unlimiteds are people that work. They are riding the train regardless of cost. Assuming they have to take 2 trips a day @ 2 bucks a pop that’s 80 dollars a month right there. Add in one extra trip on any given day and the MTA is already getting one extra dollar per month from each rider (easily translates into hundreds of millions of extra dollars per year). How many people do you seriously think would stop taking the train if unlimiteds went away?

    My main point though is: How the MTA can seriously say they are going to raise the base fare from 2.00 -> 2.50 when between pay-per-ride discounts and unlimited cards nobody is even paying 2!

  • J. Mork

    I did not say that they were making more money from unlimiteds. I said it was another option. Why don’t you look it up and let us know!

  • Sam,

    Time value of money. The MTA wants to have the entire months fare on day one, and have it guaranteed, and not have to wait to get a portion of it every day.

  • Sam


    Time Value of Money is an interesting and complex point. However:

    “The MTA wants to have the entire months fare on day one, and have it guaranteed, and not have to wait to get a portion of it every day.”

    1. Not everyone buys their Metrocard on the same day. So they are already receiving a portion everyday.

    2. Once you add money to a pay-per-ride it is the MTA’s regardless of when you actually use those trips.

  • Thanks for clarifying Glenn, I’ve only caught one or two of your rants! I see that was more of a jab against politicians protesting cuts in their own districts while opposing tolling.

    It’s interesting how you phrase #3. What specifically do you think pushes the burden towards Manhattan? I’m sure Manhattan has the highest percentage of MTA users, but the political standstill is shifting the burden to MTA users everywhere, which is where I would think the focus should be.

    I don’t like to look at it as just a Manhattan vs Outerboroughs issue. In a way framing it like that gives fodder to outerborough politicians who make being anti-toll a populist position.

    People shouldn’t be paying tolls to cross bridges because they’re from the outer boroughs and therefore get subsidized transit. Giving the outer boroughs subsidized transit is why we have such an expansive system. They should be paying tolls to internalize the real cost of their decision to drive.

  • Sam

    Your 2nf point may not be the case. Im not familiar with how the accounting works for the MTA, but they may not be able to count the money until its taken by a turnstile. The rules for gift cards and prepaid cards are very varied, and Im not expert on the accounting rules, but just stating the possibility.

    Also, another benefit of the unlimited is that even if the person chooses not to ride, the MTA gets a sale. Unlike the daily, where someone may decide to bike one day, or carpool another.

  • Sam,

    Ridership boomed after the MTA introduced the unlimited-ride Metro Card. Eliminate it, and you perhaps risk changing some riders back into drivers, especially if tolls and/or congestion pricing aren’t happening any time soon. Contrary to the situation with cars, we want to reward and encourage heavy users of transit.