Senator Diaz: Sticking It to Transit Riders and Proud of It

In this scene from last night’s State Senate vote on the MTA funding package, Fare Hike Four member Ruben Diaz, Sr. relishes his substantial influence over the final bill:

Today I’m standing here proud to say to my constituents. I promise you, constituents of the 32nd senatorial district, no toll.

That would be the asthma-plagued Bronx district where 67 percent of the households don’t own cars [PDF] and the transit-riding majority endures the most crowded, cramped conditions in the city. Thanks to the intransigence of Diaz and company on bridge tolls, it’s going to be much tougher to improve commutes for straphangers in the 32nd.

  • vnm

    Now people from Westchester County like Pedro Espada can keep driving through Diaz’s district to get to the free Third Avenue and Willis Avenue bridges.

    This guy’s stance makes NO SENSE for his own district. Is there a primary challenge on the horizon?

  • Jason A

    Yeah, this issue makes my head explode. It’s inexplicable. Seriously, who is this guy standing up for? Does he honestly believe he marches on the side of justice by keeping the car-driving minority from paying the toll – when it’s so nakedly obvious his entire district relies on transit?

    What’s the real reason?

    Is he just looking out for the measly few thousand or so who actually take the time to vote? And, by chance, are those few thousand the 30% that drives?

    Is it the leaders/officials in the unions, the churches, the democratic machine – the rings he has to kiss to get elected – who drive?

    Who is it?

  • Marty Barfowitz

    Ruben Diaz, Sr. just helped make sure that his district maintains its status as Westchester motorists’ doormat and he couldn’t be anymore proud of his achievement. I feel sorry for his constituents. They are represented by a first-class ignoramus.

  • I don’t get this guy at all. Is he living in some kind of fantasy-land version of the Bronx where everyone drives and the cars have no impact on our air quality and the safety of our streets? But how could I forget! He thinks all of the people in the Bronx take taxis all over the place. (Or at least that’s what someone in his office said.)

  • Jason A: “What’s the real reason?”

    The real reason is that he looks at car ownership as a social promotion (and at taxis as the next best thing). This is something he has in common with others in state government, whom he is eager to emulate, to swim with the big fishes. He wants to be like the three men in a room and ride in their chauffeured taxpayer-supported cars. In his wettest dreams, maybe he’s the Queen of England.

    Riding the subway is slumming. Even considering the best interests of those who ride the subway is slumming. Welcome to the New York City class structure, a form of feudalism that we never acknowledge.

    You’ve got your social promotion, Senator Diaz. I hope you choke on it.

  • Geck

    Just wait, he is about to stand in the way of same-sex marriage too.

  • Today, no toll. Just wait, Diaz. Just wait. When the subways are falling into disrepair because the capital plan isn’t funded, and your constituents are trapped in between stations due to signal malfunctions in un-air conditioned subway trains, they will get agitated. And it won’t be a few dozen or so people with signs in front of your office. It’ll be few thousands. You won’t be able to drive away from that.

  • vnm

    And by “taxis” in the context of the South Bronx, we’re not talking about yellow cabs whose fares will now contribute to mass transit. It means all of the loosely regulated gypsie cabs / livery cabs / car services / black cars, who, whatever you want to call them, drive aggressively, menace pedestrians and cyclists, and every day pick up street hails when they’re prohibited from doing so. These are also the vehicles that will continue to NOT contribute to mass transit.

  • His fantasy-land version of the Bronx has no transit riders, no gay residents, and no one who isn’t an evangelical Christian.

  • Ann

    Ruben Diaz Sr’s comments make for some great drinking games. Bad arithmetic? Drink. Showing pride for ignoring his constituents? Drink. Words coming out of his mouth not making any sense? Drink!

  • James

    Anyone else feel like they are watching a one-man SNL skit whenever this guy opens his mouth? Why would someone who is clearly anti transit (and anti gay?) represent a state senate district in New York City? This guy’s stance is so outlandish, so at odds with the needs of his constituents, that it makes you wonder who it is he owes favors to.

  • Yeah, Diaz did it for his constituents. The same way the new Yankee Stadium is for the constituents. How are all those new parks coming along?

  • Glenn

    Pure Comedy. Pure Tragedy.

    What is a “toll” anyway?

    Function: noun
    Etymology: Middle English, from Old English, from Vulgar Latin *tolonium, alteration of Late Latin telonium customhouse, from Greek tol?nion, from tel?n?s collector of tolls, from telos tax, toll; perhaps akin to Greek tl?nai to bear
    Date: before 12th century
    1: a tax or fee paid for some liberty or privilege (as of passing over a highway or bridge)
    2: compensation for services rendered: as a: a charge for transportation

    Funny, it certainly feels like I get charged a “toll” everytime I enter the subway or bus system. Does that not count Sen. Diaz?

    Maybe we should all cruise for parking around his block all night?

  • Thanks, Streetsblog, for exposing this clown for as the dangerous threat to his constituents that he is proud to be.

    Remind me why I wanted a Dem majority in the state senate again? Can I take that back?

  • Annonymouse

    Sticking it to the transit rider? Are you kidding? Are any of these commentators even from Senator Diaz’s district? Are these commentators who seem to have lots of issues with a Senator who won with 99% of his district’s vote paid off by the Mayor?

    It must get boring to sit in the cheap seats with the rest of the congestion pricing crew and toss out glib and baseless comments instead of working hard to make a difference in the world.

    Why don’t you pick on Senator Schumer who proudly announced the large amounts of federal transportation surplus money that was supposed to save the day for NY?

    Why don’t you pick on Mayor Bloomberg for giving Staten Island a ga-jillion dollars for their shovel ready ramp for the ferry – instead of using that money for the City’s transportation needs?

    Oops – forgot, these commentators may be Friends of Bloomberg. We must not upset them. We must not disagree with an angry b-b-b-billionaire or his friends. Remember how he publicly humiliated the reporter in the wheelchair?

    Senator Diaz fought a great fight against bridge tolls and preventing the MTA’s further rip off of NY’ers. The tolls are less than expected by anyone. He won. His constituents are delighted. So are many NY’ers.

  • Ian Turner


    Can you explain to us in what way Mr. Diaz “prevented the MTA’s further rip off”? I’m interested in this novel theory.

  • vnm

    Mark Walker, I like your theory. Annonymouse adds another theory: He sacrificed his constituents to get back at Bloomberg.

  • vnm

    Annonymouse raises a good point about the MTA: Where is the money going??

    Well, 98% of the wages and salaries go to the 70,000 working class and middle class men and women who build, operate and maintain the greatest public transportation network in the western hemisphere. These people get 2% of the public and media attention for what they do. The other 2% of the wages and salaries go to the management executives who get 98% of the public attention.

    While it’s fun and easy to bash the MTA, it is worth remembering that (unlike the happy motoring utopia) most of its money returns to the local economy, and to our neighbors.

  • I don’t love Bloomberg but at least he seems to understand that sometimes it’s more important to have the city function well rather then score cheap political points. I guess my ego just isn’t threatened by short rich guys from Manhattan.

  • Annonymouse

    VNM might want to attend the next MTA public hearing and actually listen to our neighbors who view things from a very different perspective than the fairy tale “detailed” above. (Love the stats!)

    The facts are that the MTA was going to raise the subway and bus fares much more than what is happening – and they were going to stick it to motorists to take their too by adding tolls on inter-borough bridges. These hikes would do incredible damage to many communities and small businesses in the City, although they might not impact the lives of the mean-spirited elitists on this board.

    We have to thank the people who stood strong alongside Senator Diaz and prevented the these additional fees that folks can’t afford especially during these very hard times. How come they aren’t under fire here like Senator Diaz is?

    What about Simcha Felder who was 100% against the proposed bridge tolls? Or Nydia Velasquez? Or Kevin Parker? Are they also boogie-men?

    And again, where is the federal stimulus money that was announced to rescue NYS this past winter so that all would be well? How come there is no outage about the flood of $ that went to Staten Island? Why don’t you guys keep your eye on the prize and transfer your energy into being productive?

  • What about Simcha Felder who was 100% against the proposed bridge tolls? Or Nydia Velasquez? Or Kevin Parker? Are they also boogie-men?

    No, they’re mean-spirited elitists.

  • vnm

    Annonymouse, I guess we have to go over the basics. The fares would not be raised as high if the tolls were put on the bridges, as has been said for the past five months. A certain amount of money needs to be raised. You can either tax polluting motorists or enviornmentally friendly transit riders to raise that amount. We’ve chosen to let the polluters get a free pass.

  • BurnInHellDiaz

    Annonymouse, I don’t think you really get the whole thrust of the debate here. The bridge tolls would have offset fare hikes. Without the tolls, you were left with an anemic transit package that still gives you THREE fare hikes over the next few years. Bridge tolls are a good thing… as someone above said, Diaz’s district is not a car-dependent district. Fare hikes will hurt his constituents, bridge tolls would help them.

    Diaz is on a Pentacostal power trip, pure and simple. This issue, gay marriage, and the whole Malcolm Smith brouhaha showed him to be a naked power player only interested in himself (and God).

  • One small correction: with the tolls proposed by Ravitch and Silver, there would still have been a fare hike of about this size, but only one. No rental-car or taxi surcharges.

    That said, I agree with the rest of your argument, BurnInHellDiaz!

  • Annonymouse

    So then your issues with Senator Diaz are your intolerance for his religion. You just hate Pentecostals – say it – why beat around the bush?

    You mask your attacks against his religious convictions with the bridge toll issue.

    Come out from under those hoods!

    And know that despite your bigotry, many will be praying for you.

  • Ian Turner

    Annonymouse — say what!?

  • J. Mork

    I prayed and prayed for Diaz, but he still ended up screwing his constituents and the rest of the city.

  • zach

    Free bridges! Free subways! Free taxis! Free pizza!


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