Our Doomsday Might Come March 25th

The word or catch phrase that echoed throughout the minds of tri-state area mass riders over the last few months was “doomsday budget“. Another way it was phrased was “doomsday scenario” or “draconian“. Regardless of the word or phrase used, the story remained the same. If our elected officials did not help adequately fund the MTA, we the riders will once again be forced to shoulder the burden with massive fare hikes. However this time around we would also be hit with massive service cuts.

The Richard Ravitch led “Ravitch Commission” was put together to come up with solutions that would help the MTA balance its budget & create dependable sources of revenue in the future. While I feel the commission delivered a dud in terms of coming up with fair & logical solutions, it does not change the fact that our elected officials, mainly the state legislature must get something done before it is too late. Yesterday evening, NY1 transit reporter Bobby Cuza filed a report which focuses on how the state legislature will most likely be the key to what happens:

So just how high will the subway fare go? The state legislature will likely supply the answer in the next three months.

“The drop-dead date is March 25, which is when the MTA board of directors meets and will vote whether to hit the riders with a 23 percent fare hike and massive service cuts or whether the state legislature and Governor Paterson will come to the rescue of the riding public,” said Gene Russianoff, Straphangers Campaign.

The Paterson administration said it’s already drafting legislation to implement the recommendations of the Ravitch Commission, including a new payroll tax and new tolls on the East River bridges, to allow for a much smaller fare hike. The MTA will be sending a delegation to Albany next week to lobby legislators who go back to work this Wednesday.

Without help from Albany, the MTA said it will consider raising the fare to $3 for a single ride ticket or cash fare on the bus. Those buying multiple rides would pay $2.25, with the pay-per-ride bonus eliminated, while a weekly pass would go up to $31, a 14-day pass to $57 and a monthly to $99.

The agency could also raise the base fare for everyone to $2.50 and keep the 15 percent bonus for those spending $7 or more at a time, with the weekly again going up to $31, the 14-day card to $59, and the monthly to $103.

Last week, MTA Executive Director Lee Sander said the proposed hikes are not just a scare tactic.

“If we don’t get the money from Albany, we would have to do this. Having said that, do I hope that this will have a stimulative effect on our legislators and further encourage them to pass the recommendations of the ravitch commission? Yes,” said Sander.

While the MTA may also get money from a federal stimulus bill, it’s likely those dollars will go toward construction projects and won’t prevent a fare hike. As for the mayor, he said he has faith in Albany.

Click here for the complete report.

As I stated, I felt the Ravitch Commission ended up being a complete dud with the lack of logical solutions being provided. However it is clear that it will come down to either implementing some of the commission’s proposals or be faced with “doomsday”. The story will definitely have many twists & turns over the next 2+ months. In the end, lets hope the good guys get spared our “doomsday”.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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