Free Perks Price Tag

The MTA Board free perks scandal continues as a new report comes out with some usage statistics. William Neuman of the New York Times shares some usage statistics for the free E-Z Pass tags that are in the hands of MTA Board members. Here is his report:

How much has a free E-ZPass been worth to David S. Mack, the vice chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority? The answer would seem to be about $2,340 a year. Data provided by the authority shows that between November 2006 and November 2007, Mr. Mack recorded 585 transactions on his free E-ZPass tags (Mr. Mack was issued six of them).

At the time covered by the data, the one-way E-ZPass toll on most M.T.A. bridges and tunnels was $4, which suggests that if he was not traveling for free, Mr. Mack would have racked up a bill of $2,340.

(It is difficult to say for sure, however, what the value was, since tolls on some of the bridges controlled by the authority are less than $4, while the Verrazano Narrows Bridge toll for E-ZPass users last year was $8.)

Mr. Mack, a wealthy real estate executive from Long Island, stirred controversy this week  when he defended the free E-Z Pass tags and free subway, rail and bus passes given to current and former board members of the authority. He said on Wednesday that he might not ride the Long Island Rail Road if he had to pay. But a day later he backtracked and said he would support a change allowing board members to use free passes only while on official business.

But Mr. Mack was not the board member with the most E-ZPass transactions during that period. Among current board members, Ed Watt, the secretary-treasurer of Transport Workers Union Local 100, which represents subway and bus workers, had the highest total, with 839 E-ZPass transactions over the 12-month period, according to the authority’s data. Mr. Watt, who holds one of six non-voting positions on the board, had only one free tag.

The highest number of transactions was tallied by a former board member, Warren S. Dolny, who had two passes and recorded a total of 918 transaction. Mr. Dolny served on the board in the early to mid-1990s, as a representative of Rockland County.

I don’t know what is worse, the fact that current board members get these perks or the fact that past board members receive them as well. While some could argue that the perks come with the job, there is absolutely no defending past board members receiving them. Why is Mr. Dolny still receiving these perks when he has not been a MTA Board member since the mid 1990’s. We are talking about someone who has not been in the position since a minimum of 10 years ago.  His perks along with any other former board members should be revoked immediately.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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