Editorial Shows No Grasp On MTA’s Full Problems

It is no secret that the MTA is the midst of arguably its worst financial crisis ever. There is plenty of blame to go around whether it be elected officials, union workers, or the MTA itself. Thursday’s edition of the New York Post contained an editorial which squarely pushes the agenda of the financial woes being the fault of union members.

Here is what Manhattan Institute’s City Journal contributing editor Nicole Gelinas had to say:

At next week’s public MTA hearings on its proposed token-booth closings and other customer-service reduc tions, city and state lawmakers will talk tough about sticking up for the straphanger against the big, bad MTA. But none of the pols will say the obvious: Modest wage concessions from transit and railroad workers could save us from some of these cuts.

These workers took home an average of $69,500 last year — not counting health-care and pension benefits far more generous than the average New Yorker, let alone the average straphanger, enjoys.

Yes, the MTA is wasteful and inefficient, spends too much on lawyers and black cars and all the rest of the usual complaints. But big savings have to come from its workforce — or at the expense of its customers.

Two weeks ago, the MTA’s first round of cuts eliminated two subway lines and 37 bus routes, reduced frequency of other buses and trains — and cut basic cleaning. But much more is ahead.

These early cuts, including nearly 1,000 jobs, will save just $93 million — less than a quarter of the MTA’s $400 million budget shortfall.

And the budget hole is growing. The new tax on downstate payrolls, created in last year’s MTA bailout, was supposed to bring in $1.5 billion a year. But that didn’t allow for the continued stagnation of the local economy. Last month, the MTA had to slash its forecasted take from the tax by $56 million — on top of a $280 million writedown this spring. The agency’s revenues from taxes on real-estate transactions are $58 million short, too.

So we’ll see even more drastic plans in the next few months — less service and more trash, and a January fare hike that could bring a monthly MetroCard’s cost to $105, up from $89 now.

But service cuts are a losing game. They inflict pain on the riding public and area economy, without saving the MTA very much.

Consider: Even as it cuts trains, buses, maintenance and (probably) capital spending, the MTA’s huge payroll costs are still going up.

Click here for the complete editorial.

Nicole has some points especially in regards to the MTA needing to save money. However her editorial clearly shows a lack of true understanding with what is wrong overall & how it could be fixed. She clearly is touting an anti-union stance & echoing sentiments that workers are overpaid. Do some salaries need to be curbed? Sure, in some cases it is legitimate. However to attack the overall average salary is beyond ridiculous.

In her world, salaries should stay frozen or barely adjust compared to the current economic breakdown. Let’s take her example for subway maintainers & how the 2008 salary level of $65,200 should have occurred due to the amount of jobs it would save.

I would love to here her defend this logic in how one could be expected to realistically survive on that salary, especially if having to take care of a family. She seems to forget that living in this region is an expensive chore. The cost of living continues to rise yet salaries don’t or sometimes get reduced. Would she like it if I or others felt she should take a paycut? I doubt it very much. Yes, there needs to be labor savings but that is not the only problem here which she tries to push in her piece.

Now let’s focus on one of the real crippling issues hurting the MTA. For years, I have harped on how our elected officials are arguably the biggest culprit in this financial crisis. My feelings on that have not changed however I won’t tackle that in this entry. Instead, I would like to take this time to focus on of the other big culprits, the MTA’s “debt service”.

Nicole has the time to bash union member salaries yet ignores the MTA’s Capital Pogram which year after year is filled with bloat, waste, & severe mismanagement. If she was truly in tune with everything or not trying to push some anti-union agenda, she would acknowledge the waste & mismanagement on the majority if not all of the MTA’s Capital Program Projects.

Hmm, let’s see what parts are behind schedule & have showcased an increase in cost? Can anyone say, the Second Avenue Subway, Fulton Street Transit Center, Subway Car Purchases, Station Improvements, Line Structure Rehabilitation, etc. I could go on for a bit here but you get the picture. People like Nicole need to grasp the full picture before attempting to throw the blue-collar workforce under the bus.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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