MTA Approves Doomsday Scenario Budget

The voting result was virtually academic after Monday’s MTA Finance Committee meeting. However to make it official, the MTA Board approved the enactment of their “doomsday scenario” budget. Unless a reversal of fortune occurs in Albany, millions of riders will have to prepare to pay a lot more for a lot less.

I had every intention of watching the full meeting via the webcast on the MTA’s site. However an emergency business matter came up. By time I got in, I could only catch the last portion of the meeting. So lets take a quick look at the reports filed by a couple of newspapers. I will start with Pete Donohue of the New York Daily News:

Next stop: the $2.50 subway ride.

After a fiery hearing Wednesday, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted 12 to 1 to approve subway, bus and commuter train fare hikes 25% to 30%.

“This is an extremely difficult day for everyone,” a resigned MTA CEO Elliot Sander said minutes before the vote.

“Believe me, neither the board nor the senior staff of the MTA would be advancing these measures if we had any other choice.”

James Sedore, an MTA board member, was among several of his colleagues to scathingly place blame for the stunning fare increases on the shoulders of Albany lawmakers.

The hikes and service cuts came to a vote because the state Legislature failed to agree to a bailout plan.

“I think our friends in Albany have lost their way,” Sedore said.

Click here for the complete report.

Now lets take a look at the report filed by William Neuman & Jennifer Lee of the New York Times:

The board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted Wednesday morning to enact a series of fare hikes and service cutbacks needed to keep the transit system from going broke.

The vote was broken largely into three parts: fare hikes, toll increases and service cutbacks. After hearing from the public and the board members, the board approved each by a vote of 12 to 1.

“This is your last chance or forever hold your peace,” said H. Dale Hemmerdinger, the chairman of the board, right before the final vote.

The lone dissenting member in each vote was Norman I. Seabrook, president of the 9500-member New York City Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association.

Board members called the combination of fare increases and slashing bus, subway and commuter rail cuts a disaster but said they could no longer wait for lawmakers in Albany to rescue them.

Click here for the complete report.

This is a very bleak day for our transit system & people should be outraged that it has ever come to this. While the passing of this “doomsday scenario” budget seemed etched in stone to me, it does not make swallowing this bitter pill any easier. If there is a light at the end of the tunnel from today, it is knowing that these measures can be reversed if Albany comes up with a solution very soon.

I am not holding my breath for that to occur. The leaders in Albany clearly have showed their lack of care or knowledge (if not both) on how important maintaining & expanding our transit infrastructure & system is. The idea of a disinvestment in our system occurring is one that I do not like to have in my mind. Does anyone really need to experience or re-experience how the system was in the 70’s & 80s?

While I urge readers to contact their officials & let their voices be heard, I am also preparing myself for these rallying cries to be left out in the cold due to the inept officials currently in office. Our case is not helped when we have such asinine rhetoric (even if being sarcastic) spewed by the media. An example is this piece by Joanna Molloy of the New York Daily News:

So now they want five bucks a day out of us to ride the subway back and forth to work.

MTA Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger says he and his board members are going to vote for fare hikes Wednesday. I picture Hemmerdinger dropping that humdinger just before hopping into his Hummer.

Do these people even use mass transportation? I mean, does Paul McCartney’s MTA-board-member girlfriend Nancy Shevell really ride the Q to work?

A millionairess with a Hamptons mansion right out of the movie “Howard’s End,” Shevell sure as shootin’ doesn’t have to worry about finding $20 a month in the middle of the Great Recession.”It’s very painful to everybody who uses the system,” Hemmerdinger concedes.

We’re glad the MTA has managed its money so well, what with its billion-dollar deficit. I mean, they rented prime real estate atop Grand Central to Donald Trump at $4 a square foot for 30 years.

Then there’s the guy who’s paid to collect and count dead rats. Do we really need a head count? Toss those suckers in the Hudson and run, man.

Fear not. We’re sure the MTA is going to give us more for our money. They want to increase ridership and raise revenue, right?

Here are some suggestions:

– Turn the M96 into a party bus with an open bar. Sure, it might still get the Pokey Award from the Straphangers Campaign for going crosstown slower than an elephant, but a pomegranate martini would make traveling at 3.7 mph a lot more pleasant.

Click here for the complete report.

If you ask me, Joanna’s piece is irresponsible journalism. The public is already misinformed about how & why the MTA is in the midst of this major financial crisis. Many riders actually spew the sentiment echoed in this piece. So trying to re-enforce such sentiments even under the umbrella of sarcasm is not the way to go. This is not the time or place to be laying the seeds for another round of the never ending class warfare battle.

Instead media outlets like blogs & newspapers should be doing the best they can to inform the general riding public of how things really work & urging them to get their voices heard by their elected officials. Get them to do what is right & if they don’t, you will knock them out of office the first chance you get.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Can’t say I’m shocked by what happend today. Elliot Sander seems optomistic Albany may come through at the end but I’m not holding my breath. As far as the article by Joanna Molloy, I read it this afternoon and I was surprised by that garbage article she wrote. Even though sarcastic, you don’t add to the misperception floating around.

I know we’ll be paying more for less and come election time everyone will be re-elected and we’ll be stuck with idiots again. Good luck all!

I wonder how many people called our senators’ office today.

this is a death knell for LI commuters and suburbia as we know it

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