Wednesday, March 25, 2009

$2.50 Fare Is Just The Beginning

Much of the city is learning today that we will almost certainly be paying 25% or more for getting around on the subway by June. Service will also be cut, especially for bus lines and a few of the subway lines as well. Metro-North commuters are looking at a 30% hike as well. "Doomsday" is finally here. Oh and if this sounds bad, just wait until what happens next.

From StreetsBlog:

Without new financial help from Albany soon, the MTA says its current bad finances may mean another fare hike in 2010.

That would make it three years in a row for fare increases -- March 2008, June 2009 and early 2010 -- the worst record in the MTA's 40-plus year history.

It demonstrates a trend of shifting the costs of operating transit from some beneficiaries of the subways and buses -- such as motorists and businesses -- onto riders. For example, the riders' share of operating costs for the subways will go from 69% to an astonishing 84%, according to the MTA, if the just-approved fare increases are implemented.

Under the plan proposed by former MTA chairman Richard Ravitch, no new fare hike would occur before 2011.
That is Gene Russianoff talking, and trust me, when it comes to mass transit in New York, he knows his stuff. Of course, this is also common sense. If our leaders do not come up with a comprehensive plan to alleviate the debt load of the Authority, there is nowhere to go but down. Sadly, the new Democratic leadership has been behind in the message game and has let the Republican minority and few insurgents within the party own the debate:

Meanwhile, the excuses for inaction are pouring in. GOP State Senator Marty Golden, a Brooklyn rep who never broke ranks to support the Ravitch plan, sent around a press release blaming the state's top Democrats for "closing the doors completely to Republicans." Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos excused his party's monolithic opposition to the transit rescue effort in much the same way, and added that the MTA was asking for a "blank check" by seeking to fund its five-year capital program. As Liz Benjamin notes, that's exactly what the Fare Hike Four and Senate Dems have been saying.

It's a patently false claim. Any plan is subject to oversight and approval by the Capital Program Review Board. The leaders of the State Senate and the Assembly each appoint one voting member to the CPRB, as do the mayor and the governor. Any of the four voting members can veto the whole thing. Said Russianoff: "If they appropriated the money, they would still have power over how it's spent."

Why on Earth Smith is letting the Republicans and DINOs (Monserrate, Diaz, Kruger, Espada, etc) get away with lying to the people is infuriating. It just reinforces the fact that he is weak and unwilling to present real leadership in this difficult time. If only someone could step up and take over the show....perhaps place the DINOs in line and start winning the argument (because the truth is on our side) against our state's own version of the Party of No.