Monday, June 15, 2009

MTA Money Goes Where Politics Dictates, Not By Necessity

While we wait to see if the Senate can sort itself out before a judge does, let's take a look at how Albany's culture of corruption affects the M.T.A. Of course it was only last month when the state legislature stepped in at the last moment to save the public from 25% fare increases and leaving a 10% rise in it's place. It seemed as if they saved the day by increasing payroll taxes and tolls but what was not mentioned is the slush fund legislators have access to that was inserted into the mix. How those extra millions were spent speaks to how our dysfunctional capitol works.

From The NY Daily News:

State lawmakers have spent some $240 million on pet transit projects through a slush fund that has helped suburban rail riders far more than city straphangers, the Daily News has learned.

State legislators have directed approximately $190 million from the Customer Service Reserves to expand parking, renovate stations and make other upgrades along Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road lines, an MTA breakdown shows.

Only $50 million or so of the reserves has gone toward NYC Transit subway projects, the data show, even though subway ridership dwarfs commuter train ridership.

Why does NYC get so little, and why didn't we know about it? Gene Russianoff of N.Y.P.I.R.G. and the Straphangers campaign explains how that goes, along with a knock at the Senate's new "transparent" website:

It has gone unchallenged because the reserves are distributed in secrecy by majority leaders in the Assembly and Senate.

"It's not up on a Web site or enumerated in a capital plan," Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign said. "It's only by rooting around and incredible persistence you get this information, and it's wrong."