Streams

Ravitch Recommends

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Richard Ravitch, former chairman of the MTA and the head of the commission charged with advising Governor Paterson, talks about the latest proposals in Albany and the future of NYC transit.

Guests:

Richard Ravitch

Comments [68]

dana parlier from east williamsburg, bkln

Ridership is up considerably and the MTA just raised the fares recently do where's that $? The MTA is managing it's funds and budget terribly. We need to see how much they make and how they spend it.
How to make more $ now though? More ads can help but also I propose all bridges, tunnels, subways and buses use the metro card system. Any one who uses any form of transportion or route can use any form of metro card they choose, single ride, 10 ride card with one free ride, unlimited cards, etc. The unlilmited cards would permit cabs and work trucks and cars to freely move around the city to do business but also pay into the transportation system in a fare acrosws the board way. Everyone contributes and pays for the whole system.

Mar. 20 2009 02:38 PM
Ruben Safir from Brooklyn

Ravtich thinks it is the best interest of NY for the MTA to have all the money it ever wants. But it is not in the best interest of NYC. It is only in the best interest of the MTA.

What is in the best interest of NYC is for the MTA to have to beg for every penny every day and to justify it to our elected officials.

The MTA has to go and so does this WACKO Governor.

Ruben

Mar. 19 2009 12:14 PM
Tammy from Brooklyn

Ravich talking about all the taxes that have been put into effect since the 50s makes the case as to why the black hole we know as the MTA should not be given any additional sources of revenue. It budget will take that additional cash and they will be begging for more again. There has to be a point where you say this is all you get, work with it.

Mar. 19 2009 10:51 AM
Mark from Astoria, Queens

Residents in NJ, SI, and the Bronx all have to pay a toll...and a pricier one at that. A $2 toll is a bargain. I live in Queens and I would gladly pay a $2 toll to cross the East River. As a previous poster said, we need to change our thinking. Cars were yesterday's transportation. Live in the now!

Mar. 19 2009 10:47 AM
hjs from 11211

could we reinstate the commuter tax but give NYS residents a rebate of such? (making NJ and CT commuters pay for the infrastructure they use?)

Mar. 19 2009 10:44 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

Why don't one of the geniuses posting on this board apply to run the MTA -- since it's so obvious what's wrong. And the solution is equally obvious -- and simple-minded. Just go back in time and redo everything that was done in the past. Then our problems would be solved!

Mar. 19 2009 10:41 AM
Rich from Staten Island

Charging tourists extra for any public transit sytem is ridiculous. The tourists are already paying a significant amount to the economy in hotels and other services just to visit here. Are charging separate fees for public transit even legal? Next time I visit DC or Philly, I wouldn't be thrilled with the idea of paying for the hotel and then be charged extra for PUBLIC transit.

Mar. 19 2009 10:41 AM
Alan from Manhattan

Choosing to tax passage across East River crossings seems to me as arbitrary as choosing to tax passage across any set of randomly-selected intersections throughout the city. A fairer auto usage tax would be proportional to mileage driven. Such a tax would probably need to exempt small businesses.

Mar. 19 2009 10:40 AM
Fletcher Vredenburgh from Staten Island

I'm disappointed that Mr. Ravitch's comment that as much traffic travels out of Manhattan to the other boroughs as does from them to Manhattan was allowed to stand as part of his defense against a charge of anti-outer borough bias.

The simple fact that the other four boroughs' populations greatly outnumbers Manhattans should have been enough to dismiss his claim. If you add to that the fact of lower Manhattan rates of auto ownership (and I admit I'm guessing) his statement is left as utterly false.

As usual, a Manhattan based solution for the city's problems from a man from Manhattan.

Mar. 19 2009 10:39 AM
Mike Phillips from Crown Heights

For Mr. Ravitch to suggest that East River bridge tolls are justified by environmental concerns but that the commuter tax is not is absolutely ridiculous. Commuters not only use our police, fire, and sanitation services, they pollute our air with their exhaust as they're idling in hour-long lines to leave the city. Only a former MTA chairman could have such poor logic and common sense.

Mar. 19 2009 10:35 AM
Steve from Manhattan

The media reporting on the M.T.A. fare hikes issue seems to be simply parroting the M.T.A. press releases, rather than doing actual analysis of the reasons the M.T.A. has been giving for the fare hikes.
Almost nowhere have we read about the mistakes that were made by the M.T.A.'s C.F.O., Gary J. Dellaverson, i.e., the irresponsible investments (e.g., risky bond deals with Citigroup) and the high interest rates that it is now paying for bad loans (variable-interest loans from the German bank Depfa), or the nearly $500 million in cost overruns for its still-unfinished M.T.A. HQ building in lower Manhattan (at least eight times more than earlier estimates, and which may take four times longer than anticipated).
To blame the M.T.A.'s problems solely on the drop in tax revenue and on less aid from the state and the city is to give the M.T.A. and its management a free pass -- in contrast to the $120 that the M.T.A. wants to charge its riders for their monthly passes.

Mar. 19 2009 10:35 AM
Leo from Queens

Ravitch got the funding for capital repairs becuase the state legislature provided the funding for the MTA - Also, Mr. Ravitch had an independent auditor. The MTA has not had an independent auditor since Governor CUomo left. As a result it has been mismanaged. Also, During Governor Pataki diverted existing money for the MTA to other state purposes and saddled the MTA with debt. This is the current financial problem of the MTA - that a SIGNIFICANT portion of its income is going to service debt.
the MTA has the FOURTH (4)(IV) LARGEST debt of ANY government institution in the country - Its #4 (FOUR) after the US Federal Gov't, California and NY STate. Imagine that!. NOT even FLORIDA, NJ TRANSIT, NYC or Michigan or Illinois have a large a debt as the MTA. That raises some serious criminal questions!!. becuase I don't know about you, but there has not been ONE single increase in service since 2002 In fact there has been steady decreases in service.

Mar. 19 2009 10:34 AM
Ed from East Village

Tish, most of those people who are driving in Manahatan live in your city too. I know you think of them as lesser beings from the lesser boroughs, but they do reside in your city.

Mar. 19 2009 10:33 AM
Adele from Brooklyn

I can't believe he just suggested that Manhattanites travel to the outer boroughs "all the time." And his evidence? That he goes to Queens to get to the airport, and to Brooklyn to visit his grandkid. These quick jaunts into not-Manhattan do not equate with daily commuting. Sorry, Ravitch.

Mar. 19 2009 10:32 AM
hjs from 11211

ps
$5 per day is still a good deal!

Mar. 19 2009 10:32 AM
Samuel from Queens

Let's be real. let's go back in times. Let's spend less time on computer, television and sitting idle on public transportation which only adds up to your chubby fats. Start walking and biking. It's a win win situation. You will improve your health and you will have a lesser contribution on the carbon footprint.

Mar. 19 2009 10:32 AM
Peter from NYC

ask mr Ravitch about how mangement heavy the MTA is.
Ask Mr Ravitch how he gets to work.

Mar. 19 2009 10:29 AM
kelley edwards from kensington, brooklyn

I work weekends and overnights. Service on the subway has become so terrible during the off-hours that I gave up and bought a smartcar this week. It takes me up to 2 hours to get home at 2:00am, whereas, it take less than an hour during the weekday.
My suggestion to the MTA: if you're going to raise fares, do it for rush hour only. Why should I pay the same for a commute that takes twice as long?
Kelley

Mar. 19 2009 10:29 AM
Robert from NYC

Gee there seems to be lots of folks here who must have worked or still work for AIG! They actually are supporting a fare increase. That's the solution, people who support the fare increase should pay it and we who don't shouldn't pay it. That just might be enough of an increase to cover the MTA problem! No?

Mar. 19 2009 10:28 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

We have to change our thinking from cars, cars and more cars to increased availability of mass transit. We should invest in public transportation for the entire region -- outer boroughs, LI, Westchester, NJ. We're still thinking in the same old ways.

Mar. 19 2009 10:28 AM
Laura from Staten Island

I live on Staten Island. I think it's great that the ferry is free, but there are tons of tourists on the ferry when the weather is nice. What if we had metrocard entrance to the ferry? Staten Island residents could have a card that allows free access, but non-residents would need to pay a normal $2.00 fare. We have a Staten Island residence discount on the Verrazano, why not do that on the ferry, and then reap the money from the tourists who are not enjoying the free ride.

Mar. 19 2009 10:28 AM
tish webster from manhattan

I can't believe my ears! When are people who drive in the city going to start paying for the privilege? They pollute our city, make getting around on the bus, especially the crosstown bus, painfully slow, they pollute our air, they cause noise and cause accidents for pedestrians and bike riders... We non-car owners are sick of subsidizing these people! Tax them! Make driving expensive and efficient, safe, reliable alternatives!

Mar. 19 2009 10:28 AM
Ed from East Village

If this plan to photogragh plates is so great, why don't they use it at the other toll booths? HOW MUCH WILL IT COST TO MAIL BILLS TO EVERYONE?

Mar. 19 2009 10:27 AM
Paul from Ridgewood NJ

A gasoline tax to be applied to mass transit would be progressive, effectively tax the roads equally for all drivers and tax gas guzzlers at the same time. Unfortunately there are two problems that I see: 1- It's politically unpalatable (gas taxes are high in NY as it is, among other things) and 2- It doesn't tax out-of-state drivers who gas up when coming in to NYC. Still deserves consideration. Gasoline taxes across the US are too low anyway.

Mar. 19 2009 10:27 AM
Micheal from Manhattan

When the MTA moved from selling tokens to issuing metro cards they also put themselves into the position of collecting hundreds of millions of dollars UPFRONT, and up to a month in advance or more, instead of receiving money on a per ride basis. The issuance of the metro card is almost like the issuance of a currency. With all the financial benefits that come from that. With the ability to recieve vast amounts of cash upfront (not counting all the unredeemed "rides" that are inherent in this type of system ) the MTA STILL is claiming shortfalls in revenue?As for easy passes on the harlem river bridges? How wil out of state drivers be included in this system? Lets just charge people for breathing, a toll for each breath would susttain us for at least the next 5 years in MTA dollars. Take funds from that Highwqay in the middle of West Virginia and use them here where the people are and the cash is generated!

Mar. 19 2009 10:27 AM
Tammy from Brooklyn

Most of the MTA problems are due to total mismanagement (Ravich included) and incredibly expensive union labor which pull billions from actual transit services - these need to be changed before we put an additional burden on NY'ers.

Mar. 19 2009 10:27 AM
florion from NY

I do not understand why the burden has to be bared by only one segment of the population. Why don't they raise with just devide the burden on everybody...

Mar. 19 2009 10:27 AM
Jim from Brooklyn

This caller makes a point about taxis-

It's already hard to convince a taxi driver to take you from Manhattan to Brooklyn (even though denying service is illegal). With a bridge toll, it's simply going to be impossible. Drivers are going to do anything to avoid a brooklyn/queens fare.

Mar. 19 2009 10:27 AM
markBrown from sos-newdeal.blogspot.com

PS: I actually SUPPORT the tolls on the east river bridges.

I now live in Jersey, and smile and think 'what a bunch of RUBES', as I regularly pass over these free bridges, and save my $5.00.

However, as discussed, the MTA is TOTALLY non-transparent, and corrurpt.

We need the CITY to get control of the MTA BACK from the STATE.

let the bridges and commuter rails stay with the MTA, let the SUBWAYS and busses go bACK to the city!

Mar. 19 2009 10:26 AM
Donald Passantino from Queens, NY

The Verrazano Bridge is the only one with a westbound toll, so many drivers go round-trip for free by using the Holland Tunnel westbound and the Verrazano eastbound. The toll plaza still exists on the eastbound side, so this change could be done quickly and would raise hundreds of millions of dollars for the MTA.

Mar. 19 2009 10:26 AM
Leo from Queens

The State and City have many options which would address traffic and funding for the MTA:
Increase DMV fees based on the vehicle models; a $5 surcharge for parking in a garage in Manhattan between 6am-6pm.

But the MTA needs restructure to so that it's a transparent and accountable agency. I want MORE money for mass transit but we CANNOT give them more money until transparency and accountability is addressed

Mar. 19 2009 10:25 AM
Nick from NYC


1) You mentioned that the capital budget has been funded in a bipartisan way for the last 20 years. So, what is the reason that this funding can suddenly not be found? What specific budget components have become unavailable? Federal? State?

2) COMMUTER TAX! or, tourist fares of $4, but don't touch the monthly pass!

Mar. 19 2009 10:25 AM
Susan from Kingston, New York

Commuter tax on top of the tolls? Spare me.

Mar. 19 2009 10:25 AM
Eric albert from Brooklyn

Mr. Ravich asserts that "we" have "access to its books" but I ask where is a full, public audit? An agency that maintains two sets of books cannot have its word taken on faith. Full, independent, public audit.

Also. To implement the Ravich plan requires the transfer of property from the state to private ownership, to wit, the bridges. Among other issues (legality) one MUST ask, will the MTA be better able to maintain the bridges than its trains?

I can only see this as another transfer of state monies to private hands and a usurption of state function by private, corporate, and as we have seen, unreportable interests.

Higher tolls will now be justified for to both maintain the bridges and the train fare.

Mar. 19 2009 10:25 AM
Caitlin from Sunset Park

Why not a little bit of everything? Smallish tolls, a bit of a fare hike, slightly more taxes, a few more ads, higher fines for littering, a few fewer station agents, a bit of a paycut for MTA execs, etc. Spread out the pain so no one specific group gets completely screwed.

Mar. 19 2009 10:25 AM
robert from brooklyn

Whwn are they going to tax the transactions on Wall St. ?

Mar. 19 2009 10:24 AM
Marleny from Harlem

Why listen to the proposals from or advice of those who have mismanaged the MTA?! I would support their bailout if and only if the MTA heads are fired. Their incompetence has been proven time and time again and if this was any other business they would have been terminated years ago. Maybe we should sue them personally to cover the gaps and avoid fare increases.

Mar. 19 2009 10:23 AM
Steve from

I just asked on the air about the M.T.A.'s mismanagement, and Richard Ravitch responded that he has no knowledge of the bad infestments made by its comptroller, William Dellaverson (variable-rate interest loans from the German bank Depfa) but has the gall to say that the M.T.A.'s management is "able"? Mr. Ravitch: get a grip, and do your homework, or refrain from being a public spokesman. Dellaverson should be fired. And Brian: get NY Times reporter William Neumann on your program to discuss this and the M.T.A. HQ cost overruns. He hasn't mentioned these issues in his reporting this year, but he's the Times reporter covering the M.T.A.

Mar. 19 2009 10:23 AM
Adam

I agree, a 25% increase is the right way to go. It's tough for people, I know - but it's still way cheaper than a car.

Mar. 19 2009 10:23 AM
fred from Brooklyn

Did he say he hasn't been on the subway for 25 years? if so, why is this guy involved in the crisis?

Mar. 19 2009 10:23 AM
markBrown from sos-newdeal.blogspot.com

Richard Ravich (20 mins into the segment) just said he hasn't been on MTA in 25 years.

Let's ask him a question from 25 yrs ago when he ran the MTA?

What ever happened to the 2nd avenue subway, and WHY when the project was RESTARTED recently
was there NO record of the previously constructed portions (like 20th street down to 5th street ) of the subway??

And Mr. Ravitch's record at the MTA was NOT totally without blemish...

Mar. 19 2009 10:23 AM
Doug from Manhattan

This is the good idea, Brian, that you didn't read:

Why not raise the fare to $3 (still relatively inexpensive and a good deal), and give vouchers or discounts for lower-income riders who cannot afford this?

Mar. 19 2009 10:22 AM
hjs from 11211

raise the gas tax!

Mar. 19 2009 10:22 AM
Robert from NYC

Ask him why it is that almost every year (maybe it's every year--I just don't have a record I kept and I'm giving a benefit of the doubt-- why does the MTA one day report they have lots of money and a month or so later they're crying that they're over their budget and need an increase? Why? Explain that?
Ugh! More bla bla bla. He's been around involved in govt too long.

Mar. 19 2009 10:22 AM
Sarah from Brooklyn

Why cant we look at the early retirement, ridiculous pensions, inab9ility to get any efficiencies out of workers due to ridiculous union rules, etc/ They should take some pain before the rest of us do. The MTA takes in a huge amount of money as it is.

The payroll tax is completely wrong. It is something that will continually increase, hits many more people who will never use MTA services, and makes NY even less palatable for businesses that are already fleeing the state.

Mar. 19 2009 10:22 AM
a from brooklyn

re. ads- ad sales in all media are down dramatically, thanks to the recession/depression. how can the mta sell ads when magazines and newspapers and the internet can't?

Mar. 19 2009 10:22 AM
RLewis from The Bowery

A payroll tax for the subway would be the citizen's way of subsidizing the tourists who ride, trash and leave our infrastructure worse than they found it. Make them pay more!

Mar. 19 2009 10:22 AM
Leo from Queens

The MTA currently has enough sources of funding to cover its operations and maintenance.
It's financial 'crisis' is due to huge debts and exotic financial 'products' it was saddled with in the earlier part of this decade that needs to be addressesd.

The debt problem needs to be addressed separately by the state and Mr. Ravitch, governor and MTA board need to come clean as to why and how the MTA was saddled with this debt which is taking so much of the MTA's operating budget. What was this money used for? - it DEFINITELY was NOT used for capital improvements or service increases!!

Mar. 19 2009 10:22 AM
Jason from Brooklyn

I still don't understand why we aren't considering a small increase in ALL of these proposed areas. Raise the fares, put in tolls, add a payroll tax, commuter tax. If you piss everyone off, they no one can complain that they've gotten short shrifted.

Mar. 19 2009 10:22 AM
jim from New York

$2.50 is not irrational.

East River Bridge tolls are insane -- are we not supposed to be causing less pollution and using less energy -- all those cars waiting in line will cause MORE!

People can not get out of their car. The failure to create a workable REGIONAL transit solution makes this another tax on the middle class -- without providing workable alternatives -(less than 1-2 hour commutes when you go across boroughs).

Mar. 19 2009 10:21 AM
bernard joseph from brooklyn

i'm curious to know the inner workings of the MTA's budget needs for maintenance/ construction. what is the bid scenario for projects at the MTA? seems to be the classic work/union situation where they have to justify the previous years budget and capital needs for these projects that could most likely be donw faster and cheaper if they were fairly bid on. in other words, i DO NOT trust the MTA to properly spend these supposed drastically needed monies. they've cried wolf too many times and i've personally witnessed too many work situations that are extremely wasteful.

Mar. 19 2009 10:21 AM
charles meyer from montclair

I haven't heard any discussion about taxes or surcharges taxi fares as a funding source. Most cab rides are taken by manhattan residents to and from locations in manhattan, even though manhattan is highly served by mass transit. By contrast, tolls on east river bridges are always raised as the first option, followed by fare increases.

Mar. 19 2009 10:21 AM
Herman from New York


What's wrong with a 4% fair increase if riders
can afford to pay it? The MTA isn't even satisfied with this. They want to burden riders
more than they can afford. Find other ways.

Mar. 19 2009 10:20 AM
salvatore principato from manhattan

why does the mass transit solution always consist of regressive taxes, monitoring cameras & scare tactics. how about a commuter tax?
tax the people who profit from an efficient mass transit system. maybe we should send mr ravitch & the mta executives & all the legislators to check out the mass transits system in the rest of the developed world
because they do a much better job than we do.

Mar. 19 2009 10:19 AM
Robert from NYC

Surpise surprise, Richard Ravitch is defending the MTA accounting. How many of us believe what he says with regard to this matter! LOL. [sigh of frustration] Please stop him he's said much too much in defense of these people. bla bla bla

Mar. 19 2009 10:19 AM
Eric from Manhattan

Why are we not simply raising DMV fees or the gasoline tax? If you want drivers to pay more of a share of mass transit, these are two inititatives that won't require any additional infrastructure to collect payment and it spreads the burden over all drivers, not just the ones in the outer booros.

Mar. 19 2009 10:19 AM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ

Boo hoo hoo to the metro riders complaining about fee hikes. If I could, I’d trade in my car for a metro pass any day of the week. Even with the Metro pass getting jacked up, its still considerably cheaper for you metro riders then it is to own, insure, maintain and run an automobile. It coasts me over $16 in tolls just to visit someone on Long Island. Plus you can sit and veg out on the bus or train while I’m busy trying not to get run off the road by all the other idiots like myself on my way to work.

Mar. 19 2009 10:18 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

I’m not too familiar with Mr. Ravitch’s tenure at the MTA, but… perhaps, if he were a better executive when he was head of the MTA instead of petering away taxpayer’s and commuter’s money on poor planning, foreseeable cost overruns, unnecessary expenses, and bad labor contracts rewarding workers who do little more than sleep in their booths we wouldn’t need this “dooms day” plan.
Is this plan basically his attempt to atone for his lack of leadership? Maybe if he enacted a “sensible long range plan” while head of the MTA, we wouldn’t be in the position we are in now.
The one thing I have not heard is where will cost be cut in labor (wage and salaried employees) or other cost savings, only service cuts to commuters.

Mar. 19 2009 10:18 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

Everyone talks about storming Congress with pitch forks over AIG bonuses. Why are we not storming Albany with pitchforks over their dysfunctional handling of this crisis? Once again the riding public is a football to egos and special interests.

Mar. 19 2009 10:18 AM
RLewis from The Bowery

There is no reason that the MTA Headquarters needs to be in Manhattan - the most expensive property in the world. Why are we not making them sell that building and move to a cheaper area in Queens or Brooklyn???

Mar. 19 2009 10:18 AM
hh from brooklyn

I totally agree with Ed above.

Subway fares taxes the middle and lower class. The rich need to be taxed more because they have benefitted from the lack of regulation by the governement which has for years facilitatied, the increased concentration of wealth to the 'elite'. This is rediculous. Why are we not on a general strike like they are in Paris? It is the turn of the fatcats to oay and support public programs.

Mar. 19 2009 10:18 AM
b Lynd from NYC

TOLLS ARE FOREVER. TAXES COME AND GO. We also don't need to spend money on all the hardware and electronics to put in tolls. Where is that money coming from? We also don’t need more pollution of toll idling vehicles, who's going to pay for the health costs? People will still use the east river crossings, and it will be on the backs of working people who need a no toll way into the city.

If you have faith that the economy will improve at some point in the future,

then don't put tolls on the East River crossings. I think most people would

prefer a temporary tax (maybe another one on cigarettes that increase our

Healthcare costs or like the Black Car Tax from the previous post?), than these tolls.

Mar. 19 2009 10:16 AM
Susan from Kingston, New York

Absolutely. The mismanagement of the MTA is never covered.

Mar. 19 2009 10:16 AM
Doug from Manhattan

An additional Payroll tax for MTA is inappropriate, unfair to small businesses, and counterproductive to the health of NYC small-businesses and the overall economy.

A 50-cent fare increase is hardly draconian, and $2.50 is still much cheaper than other cities.

Why not raise the fare to $3 (still relatively inexpensive and a good deal), and give vouchers or discounts for lower-income riders who cannot afford this?

Mar. 19 2009 10:15 AM
Susan from Kingston, New York

The MTA has been badly run since its beginning. On top of that it appears that the Bloomberg Administration wants to continually hike its admission charge to enter the island of Manhattan for all other New Yorkers--Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, the Bronx and the rest of New York State. The disproportion amount of money coming out of the pockets of the middle and working class is outrageous in favor of the rich cat's lifestyle. Richard Ravitch is one of them!

Mar. 19 2009 10:14 AM
MFan from Clinton Hill

It's fantastic that this is happening just as the weather is starting to warm up, and people are starting to dust off their bikes once more.

People, for less than the cost of two of those monthly metrocards you can buy yourself a fantastic used road bike! That will last you many years, provide plenty of exercise, and be good for the environment to boot. Consider it.

Mar. 19 2009 10:14 AM
J. Hayes from Brooklyn

why does the MTA not simply advertise like crazy on the trains? 7 and 1 trains now have ads on the outside of the train...I would rather have the train covered in unsightly ads than deal with ridiculous far and service cuts.....DC metro also advertises in the tunnels with stop animation ads...how about getting creative

Mar. 19 2009 10:09 AM
Ed from East Village

I propose a "fat cat" tax to close the MTA budget gap. All of these rich guys like Ravitch, Bloomberg and the AIG bunch should have to pay for their time riding around in those black Town Cars. The Town Cars should be metered. For example, when they're at the Four Seasons and the limo is waiting, the meter should be running. Also, they should not be able to deduct this tax as a business expense.

Mar. 19 2009 09:53 AM

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