NY Times Writer Says MTA Needs A Champion

We all know the story, the MTA is in a deep financial crisis. The crisis is so bad that they might increase the initial planned fare hikes & add service cuts/eliminations to the mix. This is due to them not knowing where the money will come from to help close an over $1 billion dollar operating budget deficit. In Sunday’s edition of the New York Times, William Neuman talks about how the MTA needs a champion through these trying financial times….

Two weeks ago, Richard Ravitch, the head of a state commission seeking a way to rescue the Metropolitan Transportation Authority from its deepest financial crisis in decades, addressed some of the city’s top corporate leaders at a board meeting of the Partnership for New York City, the city’s pre-eminent business group.

In a conference room at the Broad Street headquarters of Goldman Sachs, Mr. Ravitch told the board how, more than a quarter-century ago, when he was the authority’s chairman, he had escorted the group’s founder, David Rockefeller, on an early-morning trip through the transit system to see firsthand its horrendous state of decay.

Mr. Rockefeller was so impressed (or appalled) with what he saw that he made it clear to the state’s political leaders in Albany that the business community supported Mr. Ravitch’s plan for a huge spending program to resuscitate the mass transit system.

It is a story that Mr. Ravitch recounts often. But on this particular day, Nov. 17, he was telling it with a purpose to an audience that included Richard D. Parsons, the chairman of Time Warner, and Lloyd C. Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs and one of the partnership’s co-chairmen. The implication was clear: who would take on Mr. Rockefeller’s role this time?

There is no question that Mr. Ravitch needs help saving the authority again — but it is far from clear where it will come from.

His commission was created by Gov. David A. Paterson early this year to recommend solutions to the authority’s chronic financial problems. Mr. Ravitch declined to be interviewed for this article.

He is due to deliver a final report to the governor by Friday that is expected to include proposals for a tax on corporate payrolls in the region, tolls on the bridges across the East and Harlem Rivers and an increase in fares on the subway, bus and commuter railroads. Those measures would provide enough money for the authority to overcome a $1.2 billion budget gap next year and allow it to finance a long-term capital program that could cost as much as $30 billion through 2014.

Click here for the complete report.

The article sheds no new light on the overall situation involving the MTA’s finances. I will say that it does show how our elected officials seem hesitant to back what the Ravitch Commission opposes. I agree with William when he says it seems they are looking for someone else to take the lead. What is truly sad about that is the city but mainly Albany has & continues to control the purse strings. The constant disregard for adequate funding for the MTA is the opponent that needs to be defeated. William is right, we do need a champion, I’m just not sure if they can become that considering who we are dealing with.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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