Paterson may be happy that the new 1% payroll hike (and that's it) plan might have enough support to pass, but that doesn't make transit advocates happy in the least. The Ravitch Commission recommendations have been thrown by the wayside in Albany, and political expediency is the name of the game now. Unfortunately, so too does a real solution for the woes of the M.T.A.
ALBANY—Even if it is palatable enough to pass both houses of the legislature, the plan to bail out the M.T.A. that David Paterson formally unveiled this weekend is not getting a warm welcome from the alliance of labor leaders and transit advocates that pushed firmly for the Ravitch plan. They write, with charming understatement, that the plan "may not" adequately address the system's capital needs.
"The current worsening of the MTA's finances combined with the difficulty of passing new sources of revenue in election years, like next year, adds up to a very real threat," say Kevin Corbett and Bob Yaro, the co-chairs of the Empire State Transportation Alliance, in a letter sent to Paterson and legislative leaders Friday. "As members of the business, civic and labor community, we call on the state's leadership to act on a final package that responsibly and adequately provides a long term source of funding for the transit system's rebuilding needs. Now is the window of opportunity. The future health of the transit network and the region itself depend on the state meeting these long term needs."
The problem though, is that state senators' idea of long-term is election day of next year. They could care less whether or not the health of the M.T.A. improves, so long as their constituents re-elect them (and their contributors are made happy, which is part of the whole "re-elect" thing) again and again. Meanwhile, New Yorkers will have to deal with an increasingly expensive and less comprehensive mass transit system.