The MTA Prepares For Next Budget War

A new year yet a very familiar story. The MTA is up against it financially & any sort of budget miracle seems to be a fantasy. The latest issue stems from the budget plan released by Rep. Paul Ryan last week which would cost the cash strapped agency $2.3B over a 10 year period.

While the likelihood of his plan passing is slim to none, it does not change the fact that MTA is in a huge financial bind including having no funding for the last 3 years of the current Capital Program. Erik Engquist & Jeremy Smerd of Crain’s New York have more:

This season’s budget battles, whether federal or state, spell out a common theme: funding trouble for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The budget plan of Rep. Paul Ryan that House Republicans unveiled last week would cost the MTA more than $2.3 billion over 10 years in funding for rail and bus infrastructure and security projects, Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-Brooklyn/Queens, calculates. While that plan for 2012 is unlikely to pass, cuts in federal funding for the MTA appear probable.

A larger problem for the agency is that the last three years of its five-year, $26.3 billion capital plan have no state funding, and it’s unclear how it will be raised. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who did not appropriate money for the capital plan in the new budget, has not said whether his no-new-taxes pledge applies to the MTA capital plan.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Martin Golden, R-Brooklyn, intends to introduce legislation to eliminate the 50-cent surcharge on taxi rides that goes to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s operating budget. The surcharge brought in $81 million during the state fiscal year that ended March 31.

Click here for the complete report.

Let’s face reality here, the MTA is not crying wolf here. While many feel the agency has two sets of books, wastes money that could fix this overnight, etc… the fact is these myths are not true. While the agency has waste issues, they have at least attempted to clean up that side of things lately. However even if they cleaned up every aspect & wasted not one cent, they would still be in a bind.

The state of our system from the equipment to the infrastructure, & future service depends on having money available for them to use. For over two decades, our elected officials have continued to shaft the agency of much needed cash.

While the agency was able to find a way to get things done, it mainly came at the expense of the riders. However at some point, everything will hit the fan & we could see a steep loss in our transportation network.

This is the time for people to get with the program & rally to get our elected officials to find legitimate ways to help fund the agency & end the practice of shortchanging them. If you ignore what is obviously staring you in the face, don’t cry when base fares are $3+ & 30 day unlimited cards approaching $150!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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