Transit Riders Show How Clueless They Really Are

In 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. Many of the riders already show their lack of knowledge by continuing to obsess over the accusation of double books from 5+ years ago. They also obsess over a surplus disappearing ignoring the fact that maintaining & upgrading the system is not free.

Tomorrow’s print edition of the New York Times takes a look at how transit riders themselves are their unlikely opponent with their non-support for bridge tolls. Here is a sample of William Neuman’s piece:

A small group of Democratic state senators from Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx have blocked a financial rescue proposal for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority because it would require tolls on the East River and Harlem River bridges.

They have taken this position even though the plan is meant to help hold down transit fares, and in their districts — as in the city overall — commuters who ride subways and buses easily outnumber those who drive to work.

But interviews with residents in these districts revealed that the holdout legislators have tapped into a concern shared by many of their constituents, even among those where it might be least unexpected: transit riders. And while toll opponents made up a spirited minority among straphangers interviewed in recent days, their views stood out, because they were both unexpected and passionately held.

“I think it’s unfair to tax drivers to pay for those using public transportation,” Serena Burch, 37, said as she waited on a recent afternoon for a bus near Brooklyn College, where she is a full-time student. “Why should the bridge commuters pay for the subway commuters in Brooklyn?”

In the Soundview section of the Bronx, John Garcia, 33, a plumber with a job in Manhattan, is represented by Senator Rubén Díaz Sr., another vocal toll opponent. Mr. Garcia said that even though he was a regular subway rider, he worried about the effect of tolls on the small businesses that frequently use the Harlem River bridges.

“Tolling the bridges is going to hurt a lot of people that own plumbing companies, construction companies, cabs, deliverymen,” Mr. Garcia said, adding that he would prefer higher subway fares to new tolls.

Several subway riders said they opposed both tolls and higher fares and expressed a deep distrust of the transportation authority.

“The whole organization is very inefficient,” said Boris Gertsberg, 33, a software developer who lives in Mr. Kruger’s district in Brooklyn and takes the subway daily to his office in Manhattan. He said he did not drive a car but was still against tolls. “I don’t think looking at hiking fares or putting tolls is the right way to solve the budgetary crisis they’re in,” he said.

Click here for the complete report.

As you know by now, I was not impressed with the Ravitch Commission proposals. I felt they lacked innovation in terms of funding ideas. I felt with the people on the commission, they could have come up with some more options. My main issue was with the business tax as it was not well thought out. However I also understand that these proposals are clearly superior to being forced to live with the enactment of the “doomsday scenario“.

William’s report just showcases what many transit advocates & bloggers know, the general public is clueless on transit policy from how things are run down to the day-to-day operations. They completely ignore the fact they pay higher fares mainly due to elected officials (mainly Albany) shortchanging the MTA & subsequently the riders themselves year after year. They also completely ignore the fact that most of that money gets used on people located outside the 12 counties the MTA serves. Lastly they ignore how the same drivers they feel pity for are benefiting while not caring about the needs of mass transit users.

With this kind of sentiment, is it any wonder that the same anti-transit politicians get elected time & time again? This report just angered me so much as how clueless could people be? I already know the answer but wish it was something completely different. So when riders are paying more for less, I hope they remember that they reap what they sow & that the drivers they defend could care less.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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