This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Debates over the Mayor's question: "Will the city's main financial troubles be solved by a ten-cent subway fare?"
Unnamed speaker (Mayor O'Dwyer?) introduces the hearing.
First speaker is Mr. Paul Windels, representing the Citizens' Transit Committee. Windels gets in a short argument with Controller Lazarus Joseph about the city's previous year budget and how the fare increase would (or would not) improve city finances and make the subway self-sufficient. Both make reference to the real estate taxes.
Mayor O'Dwyer (?) interrupts to suggest those listening don't have a clear idea of what the two men are discussing. He states: The majority opinion is that an increased subway fare will bring in about $83 million. There is a $78 million deficit, which real estate is carrying above the 2% tax limit. That leaves $6 or 7 million, which will go to the city, according to William Church Osborn's statement.
Mr. Windels suggests the total to the city will actually receive $51 million with the increased fare, based on last year's numbers.
Mr. Joseph runs through the formula for determining the tax rate based on the changes caused to the budget by increasing the fare.
Based on the availability of $6 or 7 million if the fare is increased, which is Mr. Osborn's statement, the Mayor doesn't think the city's budget shortfalls will be solved.
Mr. Windels continues on his platform of the ways in which the city will be aided if the fare is increased. A referendum will be voted down if presented as simply a means of getting the deficit down.
[Windels' speech ends abruptly.]
An unnamed speaker (Colonel Riegeman) discusses the benefits of increasing the subway fare: it will provide money to build more schools and hospitals. He is briefly interrupted by Mr. Joseph. "This hearing has killed the fetish of the five cent fare." There is no alternative to a self-sustaining subway if you're going to have a well-run fiscal policy.
The Mayor thanks the speaker for his work, regardless of the decision of the board.
The Mayor acknowledges those members of the City Council in the room.
Mr. Cashioni says the fare increase won't solve the fiscal problems of New York or even the fiscal problems of the transit system beyond two or three years. By 1950, NYC will be about 9 million in population. Subways will have to be extended. You have to borrow the money to do this, so again the subway system is not self-sustaining. We make money on people who come in from out of town. Housewives may not take weekly trips to the department store. If the fare gets too high, people won't build in New York City. A student in Red Hook, Brooklyn, has to pay two fares to get to school every day. Discusses the real estate tax rate.
Mr. Cashioni's speech ends abruptly.
A WNYC announcer introduces the afternoon session of the hearing; Tommy Cowan describes the room and the broadcast, then announces the first speaker.
Mayor O'Dwyer introduces Dr. Wilson Smiley, Professor of Public Health at Cornell University, who discusses the "public health menace" of the overcrowded subways. He is asked many questions about people who ride the subway when they are sick. The suggestion that subways are well-ventilated and very rarely overcrowded gets a big laugh from the audience.
Mayor O'Dwyer introduces Matthew Ely of the New York Real Estate Board, who suggests the real estate tax payers are subsidizing the transit system. Mayor O'Dwyer interrupts Ely, who accuses him of only interrupting those who are speaking in support of the increased fare. They have a long argument about the most appropriate way to treat one another. Mr. Ely is allowed to continue, but Mayor O'Dwyer says he won't be paying much attention.
Walter Hart, representing the majority of the City Council, criticizes a commercial asking for a tax on the subway fare. Goes on about real estate taxes and the tax burden on the poor. Responds to Dr. Wilson's comments about sick subway riders: if Cornell would change their acceptance policies, maybe some of the poor people could get better jobs.
Mr. Smith of the Chamber of Commerce reads a resolution passed by the Board of Estimate the week before that the transit system must become self-sustaining. Urges the Board of Estimate give serious consideration to the issue.
Mrs. Bessie Hume-Mott of the New York Federation of Women's Clubs reads a statement recommending that the Board of Estimate initiate action for a higher fare in city owned subways. They are interested that their children go to school on clean subways, that stations have longer platforms and more entrances and exits, and that subway cars are clean and new.
Mrs. Hume-Mott's speech ends abruptly.
An unnamed speaker supports the self-sustaining fare. Recalls Henry Epstein's earlier remarks about the constitutional amendment. Offers to the Mayor the solution that he get the constitutional amendment through and they will support the increased fare.
Mayor O'Dwyer responds that if he thought the increased fare would solve the deficit problems, he would support it. He then explains the details of the budget and tax issues to show a fare increase won't bring any money in to the city.
The proceedings end abruptly.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 72747
Municipal archives id: LT2506