As we all know the MTA’s finances are in serious shambles. Major construction projects have faced delays, doubts have come about as to whether some will even be finished much less started for others. We also have had the implementation of cutbacks to maintenance throughout the system. Although people could only hope that was the end of the pain, we all knew an even greater pain awaited us & that was in the form of yet another fare hike. Some might ask, weren’t we just dealing with this not too long ago?
Yes, we all were just dealing with this last year when this very blog provided wall to wall coverage of the fare hike battle. We were promised better & extra service for accepting the hikes & a promise of no more until at least 2010. We all know the extra service is in a transit place high in the sky or far below depending on who you ask. As far as better service is concerned, we have not gotten that as recent numbers show it has gotten worse. However I will address that in the next entry. Lets go straight to the New York Times’ William Neuman for the report on the possibility of substantial fare hikes next year. Here is a sample of his report:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will propose a substantial increase in transit fares and bridge and tunnel tolls next year to help close a widening budget gap of nearly $900 million, according to an official at the authority.
Though the precise amount of the fare and toll increase has yet to be determined, the authority will seek to increase the revenue it gets from those sources by 8 percent. If approved by the authority’s board, the increase would take effect next July and would follow a toll and fare increase in March of this year.
In the more than 100-year history of the subway, the fare has gone up in consecutive years only once before, in 1980 and 1981.
On Wednesday, the authority will unveil a preliminary budget plan for 2009 that calls for the fare and toll increases and outlines other measures to balance its budget, including more than $300 million in additional financing that the authority hopes to get from the city and state.
Coming at a time when the state and city budgets face extreme financial pressure as well, those requests are likely to be resisted by elected officials.
The authority faces steadily rising costs, particularly for fuel, as well as sharply declining tax revenues due to a slowdown in the real estate market. Just six months ago, the authority predicted that its shortfall for 2009 would be slightly more than $200 million, less than a quarter of its latest projection.
The budget plan, which the authority is required to produce in July, puts new focus on a state commission created by Gov. David A. Paterson to recommend long-term solutions for the authority’s chronic financial difficulties. The panel, which is headed by Richard Ravitch, a former authority chairman, is to make a report by November. The authority must pass a new budget for next year in December.
Click here for the full report.
I have not gotten a chance to read or watch the news over the last day or so. I am pretty sure the media is reporting how the MTA is forcing riders to bear the brunt of the MTA’s financial peril. While a simple glance at the situation might lead one to believe that, I urge that the situation be looked into more deeply.
Has the MTA mismanaged money throughout its history? Yes, it has but this isn’t the main reason for the situation they are in. The MTA is not a superhero, it can’t dodge the hardships that come with a failing economy like a speeding bullet. It will face the same issues that you & I face in our lives trying to survive. However the economy is not the biggest culprit here. No, the clear culprit is your elected officials. Every time you hear them scream to the top of the mountain how the MTA brought this on themselves, you should ask when will they take responsibility for the improper funding of our transit infrastructure.
I bet they won’t like that question being asked as the truth as a way of stinging worse than a bee ever could. Lets face it, for years our elected officials on the local all the way up to the federal level have continuously dropped the ball in terms of proper funding. Throughout the build up to the inevitable fare increase that went into effect a few months ago, all you heard from elected officials was the same thing. If you need more money, just ask for it. This lip service was mainly led by Westchester County Democrat Asemblyman Richard Brodsky.
As I stated last month, it is time for elected officials such as Mr. Brodsky to live up to his promises of getting the MTA the money it needs. We heard all about how the assembly wants to work with the MTA to correct failed policies from the past. Yet from where I sit, I see the same cycle of failed policies repeating itself with the MTA being the biggest loser when all is said & done. I feel the MTA should not have to beg for funding as providing adequate funding for our transit infrastructure should be mandatory not only in the tri-state area but throughout our country.
So when you get ready to blame the MTA for yet another fare hike as if they are happy to see costs skyrocket for fuel, energy, etc… take a second & point the finger at the people who are truly responsible for this mess, your elected officials.
xoxo Transit Blogger