Lawmakers Stricken With Collective Amnesia as Transit Cuts Loom

When Albany slapped a Band-Aid over the MTA budget hole last spring, no one except the architects of the plan pretended that the transit system was actually on sound financial footing. As yet another day of reckoning approaches, lawmakers continue to go to bizarre extremes to avoid admitting that their slipshod funding package has failed.

golden_espaillat.jpgThough hailing from opposite sides of the aisle, Golden and Espaillat agree: Albany has done its part for city transit riders. Photos: Village Voice/Grand Street News

Brooklyn Senator Marty Golden (flanked by City Council congestion pricing opponent Vincent Gentile) recently participated in a protest against reductions
in bus service now planned for Bay Ridge. Here’s the Ravitch rescue plan detractor as quoted by the Brooklyn Eagle: "This is a serious threat by the MTA to get the state legislature to
act. MTA,
we’re not going to take these cuts!"

In describing proposed cuts as "a serious threat by the MTA to get the state legislature to act," Golden seems be acknowledging, in a weird, circular manner, that it’s up to him and his colleagues to properly fund the transit system. But beyond his plan to "call a town hall meeting," what has he brought to the table that would help his constituents who rely on MTA buses and trains?

In the arena of head-spinning nonsensery, Golden has to take a back seat to Adriano Espaillat. As reported in the Manhattan Times, at an event to promote those free student MetroCards that Albany chose to stop funding — hosted by City Council member, protege, and fellow road pricing critic Ydanis Rodriguez — the senator from Upper Manhattan unloaded this whopper:

Espaillat said the state government had
already filled a hole in the MTA’s budget in the fall, and the
authority should find another way to balance its books.

“We gave
them money. They should fix our trains. … We gave them money to do
that. But we don’t want them to take money about from our children,” he

He said he believes threatening the cuts are just a
bargaining chip to get the city or state to fill the budget shortfalls
of the authority, similar to the 2008-2009 threat to toll East River

“We stopped them and we can stop them again,” he said.

In other words, Espaillat is boasting that he stopped a funding stream that would have helped "fix our trains."

Contemplating the demise of the M line — a.k.a. his ride to work —
John Petro of the Drum Major Institute has a piece over at the
Huffington Post that plainly lays out Albany’s choice: make drivers pay their share for a transit system that reduces traffic, helps the environment, and powers the region’s economy, or subject all New Yorkers to a future that resembles the dark days of the city’s past.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Perhaps these legislators believe that welfare is habit forming when it comes to transit. But not autos.

    Remember, the real budget gap is $3 to $4 billion per year. I wouldn’t borrow less than expected and call it a surplus, and I wouldn’t borrow $400 million more than expected and call it a $400 million deficit.

  • Peter

    This is crazy, last year the state paid $190.9 million in subsidies to the MTA. I understand that that money was not for capital improvements but it is still a huge chunk of change. The MTA is always crying that they are broke and need help but when they sold the Atlantic Rail Yards at a discount to Ratner, they did not seem overly concerned about a budget gap. Let us call it like it is the real problem here is the MTA and not the legislators who will not take New Yorkers money to pay for a system that is mis-managed, ill-run, and bloated from the top down to the union management. Notice I left out the union workers because I feel they are the only ones in the equation who have any integrity and they are just trying to make a living. I hope the new leadership at the MTA has some wide reaching reform in mind to bring the system back in line and make it a viable entity in the future. That is what is in everybodies best interest.


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