Today’s Headlines

  • More About Yesterday’s East Side SBS Announcement (NY1, SAS)
  • Shelly Silver Has to Pass Bus Cam Bill to Come Through for NYers (MTR)
  • Post Predictably Skeptical of Fare Pre-Payment
  • Will Incomplete East Side Bikeways Forestall NYC Bike-Share? (Transpo Nation)
  • BP Oil Spill Rate Still an Unsolved Mystery (NYT)
  • Traffic Fatalities in India Skyrocketing: 118,000 People Killed in 2008 Alone (NYT 1, 2)
  • School Bus Driver Crushes Woman’s Leg in Gravesend (Post)
  • Quickie Q&A With TLC Chief Yassky (AMNY)
  • MBTA Releases Real-Time Data for 12 More Bus Routes (Transit Wire)
  • NBA Star Caron Butler, James Oberstar, Prince of Denmark Bike By White House (AP)
  • Larry Littlefield

    An article I read this morning in the Financial Times about what is happening in the UK is of interest here, given they way the U.S. (and in particular finance-dependent NYC) often follows the same trend.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/257181e6-726c-11df-9f82-00144feabdc0,s01=1.html

    The UK is making a sudden shift from wrecking its future by increasing debts to wrecking its present and future by gutting public services.

    “Everyone is agreed. The squeeze on public spending needed to reduce Britain’s budget deficit will be severe. So severe, David Cameron says, that the effect on the economy and society may be to change the nation’s very way of life. Even Alistair Darling, Labour’s shadow chancellor of the exchequer, says the process will be more painful than Margaret Thatcher’s cuts during the 1980s.”

    Public investment, which benefits the future, is first on the chopping block.

    “The Treasury does not know how to discriminate between socially useful and wasteful spending. It intends to gut all the big capital programmes – rail and road modernisation, school and hospital building – as well as investments in universities, technology and science.”

    But what type of spending does no one dare to touch or talk about?

    “Now I have a question. If things are really this bad, why is Mr Cameron’s government refusing to touch billions of pounds spent on welfare benefits that the recipients do not need? Why, more specifically, are wealthy pensioners to be guaranteed free bus passes and winter fuel allowances?”

    “I heard the other day that anything up to three-quarters of FTSE 100 board directors are in receipt of fuel allowances and free bus passes. That sounds about right since the payments are made to everyone above the age of 60. The annual cost of providing these benefits, alongside free television licences, prescriptions and eye tests is now £4bn and rising fast.”

    Free bus passes for those over 60, even for top executives. And I thought our 24-hour half-fare for all those over 65, regardless of how high their tax-free pension income is, was bad.

    Perhaps the culture of the generations now in charge, and the personality disorders of homo politicus, are similar throughout most of the as of now developed world.

  • Bolwerk

    The Post seems to have the journalistic acumen of Fox Ne…oh, wait!

    But seriously, POP fare control has merit. The only problem is the fine is possibly too low for enforcement to pay for itself.

  • In Moscow, where the honor system is considered a failure, they’ve installed bus turnstiles.

  • Cameron is just engaging in austerity for the sake of austerity. Unlike Greece, Britain does not have a problem managing its large debt; its interest rate is still low and has not moved up. The only possible reason to do austerity in the middle of a deflationary crisis is if you want the crisis to continue indefinitely.

    Even the austerity Cameron is doing is stupid. Britain cut its welfare to the bones in the 1980s, in order to pay for massive cuts in income taxes on the rich. The top rate went from 70% before Thatcher to 30% after Thatcher. Needless to say, Cameron is not going to try to undo those tax cuts; better to make people pay for cancer screenings.