Save Mass Transit With Some Honesty

With the “doomsday scenario” a little over 2 days away, time is running out for Albany to come up with a plan to save millions of riders from subpar mass transit. When it comes to the battle of public opinion, the MTA is considered the dishonest party by far.

Regardless of what proof the MTA says or does in terms of proof of their dire financial situation, a high percentage of the riding public says it is not being upfront. Their proof of this is the claim made 5+ years ago that the agency kept two sets of books. Ever since that accusation came about, the MTA’s cries for monetary assistance have been met with a sentiment of sure you do.

In an a column that appeared in today’s print edition of the New York Daily News, Errol Louis shares his belief on why honesty from the political side is necessary to save mass transit. Lets take a look at what he had to say:

We have reached crunch time in the stalled transit talks, with Albany pols deadlocked and dithering as the MTA prepares to vote this week on a “doomsday budget” that features deep cuts in service and a wallet-busting 23% transit fare hike.

This is idiotic. Everybody knows that some combination of tax hikes, fare increases and service cuts are needed to close the MTA’s $1.2 billion deficit and raise the additional billions needed to keep trains, buses, stations and bridges in working order.

But the men who run Albany remain so far apart that the MTA, Gov. Paterson and leaders of the state Legislature can’t even agree on basic arithmetic, such as the amount of revenue a tax hike is likely to yield.

That’s inexcusable – and a symptom of the need for greater transparency, disclosure and public discussion when it comes to MTA issues.

There’s a better way. Instead of using the six-year-old “two sets of books” canard as an excuse for delay, Albany pols should agree in advance to abide by a public referendum on how best to balance three or four different funding plans.

The plans could be developed by different coalitions of civic, business and political groups, then presented side by side on a Web site developed by a neutral and reliable source – say, a group of university leaders, professional accountants, urban planners and transportation professionals.

Everything should be on the table. Not just the controversial proposal of the moment – tolling the East River bridges – but also sensible ideas like a regional gas tax, which could raise billions for mass transit for a few pennies per gallon at the gas pump.

Click here for the complete column.

I happen to agree with the stance taken here by Mr. Louis. This is 2009 & a good percentage of the riding public continues to be misinformed of transit policy as a whole & what really is or is not necessary to maintain our system. The MTA has done a solid job of keeping things on the up & up under the new regime. It is about time they get recognized for that instead of being buried by the mistakes of their predecessors.

The same people who feel the MTA is being dishonest are the same ones who will be the first to complain about higher fares. They will also be the same people to reelect the anti mass transit officials who continue to screw the riding public at almost every turn. They will also be the same people who will support the possible ouster of MTA CEO/Executive Director Elliot Sander even though he has done a wonderful jub during his tenure.

Listen up people, you can’t have it both ways. Either you start to do your part or be prepared to suffer the consequences of higher fares for years to come. The choice is clearly yours. If you ask me, I wouldn’t be surprised if they stick to the status quo & continue to show just how misinformed & clueless they are.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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The saddest part about this whole issue, is that the misinformed public is like 95 percent of the riding public (number not an actual fact but quite possible). You know, Elliot Sander has done a wonderful job and unfortunetaly Malcom Smith wants votes. As I stated somewhere else, this is a case of the boy who cried wolf with a sadistic twist in the end.

[…] the entry below, I touched on how the majority of transit riders are clueless in terms of transit policy & the needs to maintain & grow our system at the same time. […]

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