MTA Cuts

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gene Russianoff, staff attorney at NYPIRG Straphangers campaign, and Neysa Pranger, director of public affairs for the Regional Plan Association, review the drastic service cuts approved by the MTA's Finance Committee to close a budget gap.


Neysa Pranger and Gene Russianoff

Comments [45]

Ron Raphael from 16th Street-NYC

I feel that stopping, or reducing, door to door service is very wrong and potentially dangerous. The last thing that is stated whenever a reservation is made is "allow the driver 30 minutes for delays." I am sure that these delays do exist, after all, this is NYC with traffic jams, etc. As waiting at a place such as a bus stop- or any other place- for those same 30 minutes would be an impossibility for myself and for many others, it would prevent our going to doctors as well as performing other functions in society. I feel that a solution to this very real problem would be to assess a tax on all bonuses paid out by those "too big to fail"banks of about 50%. Although it is true that waiters and waitresses do work more for tips than a base salary, but they don't expect to make millions of dollars either.

Also, Access-a-Ride vans are frequently empty many times when they pick me up. This is a gross error of management, as I am sure that it would be more economically practial to make sure that all, or most seats in the van are occupied.


Dec. 15 2009 07:59 PM
Dana from east williamsburg/bushwick, bkln

First of all I don't believe subway/bus ridership numbers are down, seems like the opposite to me. The MTA is sloppily run with a low quality time waisting attitude and badly managed.
They should not be getting a raise now!

I heard Bloomberg bring up that congestion pricing plan again. Manhattan is not the only burough in NY with traffic problems and should not be treated as such.

My plan is to make E-z pass and monthly metro cards interchangable. The 4 main bridges should not be free but also should not cost $4, $6, $8, $10, $12 or $15 either.
If all drivers had to use the metro card each trip over a bridge, then automatically many additional people contribute $. If everyone contributes a reasonable amount, such as what a subway/bus trip costs, funds are immediately raised.
Business owners that must drive many trips a day, week, month, could buy unlimited monthly passes which means they also contribute more than they do now, but a reasonable/affordable amount as opposed to some business stiffling amount, and occasional drivers aren't hit with an outrageous fee to drive around the city either.

Dec. 15 2009 06:54 PM
Philip from Bronx

Zone pricing will just be an added tax on the poor who live in the Bronx and Brooklyn and have to travel far to get to work. A lot of those who advocate it are those who take LIRR or Metro North to Penn Station and just have to take a subway a few stops and live comfortably in their suburban homes.

Would a commuter tax help here?

Dec. 15 2009 01:42 PM

This is just hilarious! The quality of life in NYC just keeps on deteriorating. Packed like sardines into tiny, overpriced apartments...shuttling to work and back like livestock on outdated, unkempt, and unreliable subway cars...enduring ubiquitous noise, congestion, and pollution...paying a CITY income tax for these "privileges"...and incurring living costs far in excess of the norm...and it is only going to get worse...

Is every learning curve in NYC vertical?

Dec. 15 2009 12:03 PM
jtt from jackson heights

Sure, parental participation is great, but there have ALWAYS been some parents who cannot or will not get involved. My grandmother's immigrant parents were not "involved", yet she and her siblings learned to read and write in grammaticly correct English, do math and rudimentry civics and American history in public elementry schools.

Anyway, forcing parents who may have multiple jobs to walk to and from work will not encourage greater involvement.

Dec. 15 2009 12:01 PM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

Brian, why doesn't WNYC have a general "Soapbox" any more?

Even stations in NYC like WOR and WABC have general boards where members of the listening community can discuss all issues.

Isn't that the democratic way?

Dec. 15 2009 11:39 AM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Salisbury, Rhodesia via McLean, VA via Langley AFB - LOL!

Voter, you make some good points. That's why I had a few question marks and perhaps' in there. I have several friends and family who would love to get on a new subway on the UES and take it down to midtown or downtown. They have good jobs and easily would spend the extra buck or two for semi-express service.

Clearly, the fare will have to go up for some and needs to stay free or at least low for others. I think the City could raise millions of dollars by charging bicycle riders fees and fining them for breaking safety rules and the rules of the road. All that money should be sent to city hospitals for ER services

Making kids travel to go to good schools is also a problem. All the schools should be good and kids should go to school in their own neighborhoods. Dems have ruined urban education by instituting social promotion and lowing standards and goals for the populations they rule in their little fiefdoms.

Dec. 15 2009 11:35 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

The unpopular but true answer to your question JTT on why “good” schools aren’t within walking distance of every residential neighborhood—which is practically every neighborhood since zoning has all but eliminated exclusively commercial or industrial ones—is because education isn’t valued equally in every residential neighborhood in NYC.
If all neighborhoods had the same reverence for education over entertainment and books over bling , then teachers would be more likely to want to work in economically depressed areas. But, when your day is filled with discipline problems, near zero parental participation, and having to call the cops to get a little order, why bother.

Dec. 15 2009 11:10 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

The logic you’re using for charging more for the 2nd Avenue subway—since it will serve the Upper East Side rich (who probably don’t want it because they drive or use car services and don’t want easy access by the “undesirables”) as well as the Lower East Side and East Harlem—doesn’t agree with a zoned system that would have the working poor that have to live out in the far reaches pay more. This would mean that a housekeeper in Coney would be paying up to six times more ($3) than the people she would be cleaning for (50 cents) to get to the same places.
Would not having a flat fair inside NYC mean that the rich (people traveling within Manhattan below 96th street and people in the wealthiest parts of Brooklyn) would effectively pay more than the poor?

Dec. 15 2009 11:01 AM
Larra from south bx

Is there a place where the proposed service cuts are posted?

Dec. 15 2009 10:54 AM
jtt from jackson heights

Who decided that the most affordable housing should be the furthest from the business centers? Who's dependent on the availability of low wage workers? Why aren't there good schools within walking distance of every residential neighborhood?

The people who will be most affected, are those who have the fewest options.

Dec. 15 2009 10:53 AM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

As a native NYer who has used the subways many times over the years, I think NYCTA should have a zoned system for the subway. The basic fare should be immediately raised to $3.00 from the outskirts to Manhattan; getting lower depending on the fewer stops one goes. The minimum should be 50 cents for 3-4 local stations or less and $1.00 for one express station to express station. Usage would go up. Perhaps express trains should charge a premium?

A higher fare should be charged when the 2nd Ave. subway finally opens, someday; after all it was planned to serve the rich on the Upper East Side working in the financial and insurance centers downtown.

The threat to make students pay is just ridiculous and clearly meant to raise the stakes as the MTA tries to suck more money out of the city, state and Feds.

The subways and the express bus system is still a bargain. The City should expand express bus service which gets a premium and perhaps use that money for the subway.

At no point should anymore expense be heaped on drivers. The average commuting driver into the city pays at least $1,000 for parking, tolls and gas, exclusive of car payments and insurance, which may be hundreds more. The taxes on parking and gas helps the City and state, both of which would be hurt if drivers switched to rail or bus travel.

There should also be a small tax ($50/year for increased carbon footprint for heavy breathing of CO2 - lol) as well as insurance and registration charges ($100/year each) on those who commute by bicycle during rush hours (6-10AM & 3-7PM). These folks should also be required to wear helmets and florescent (yellow, lime, orange or pink) reflective safety vests 24/7 or be subjected to heavy fines for not doing so. Lights and reflectors should also be required or subjected to heavy fines, too.

After all safety comes first, then taxes on everything in Democrat jurisdictions.

Dec. 15 2009 10:41 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

#29 (Gerald),
You forgot to mention the obscene amount of advertising being thrown at those 5,225,675 captive eyeballs. It is unfathomable that the MTA can’t make ends meet with all of the revenue (including taxes, real estate, and federal dollars) they have.

Dec. 15 2009 10:37 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

#28 (Brian from Brooklyn)
Without the MTA—if you had to rely on yellow taxis, livery taxis, limousine service, or buy a car—you would have less money in your pocket as well. When are you going to pony up and pay your fair share?
Seems like a lot of people up here think the mayor and Wall Street should pay for they lifestyle they created for themselves (or didn’t work hard enough to support) instead of taking a little responsibility and initiative. When exactly are you required to be responsible for yourself?

Dec. 15 2009 10:34 AM
Craig from Manhattan

Does anyone know how much the MTA's income surged when the Metro Card was introduced. I can't imagine that the card didn't add substantially to its cash flow in terms of advance sale of rides, increased rides paid for, rides paid for but never used (tourists, lost cards, etc).

Dec. 15 2009 10:33 AM
RJ from prospect hts

That the transit workers have gotten together to have a measure of power against an arbitrary and incompetent management (the MTA) to get good benefits should be an *example* to the rest of the city, not a target.

Why do so many want to bring others *down* to an outrageous level of powerlessness, bad (if any) benefits, and inadequate salaries rather than *organize* the way the TWU has to bring their standards of living *up*?

And fyi: The "11%" that's thrown around is over 3 years--that's 3+% a year to deal with the ridiculous increase in college tuition, parking fees, food, rent, etc.

Dec. 15 2009 10:29 AM
gerald from brooklyn

I can't see with such high ridership how they have to make more cuts. There are
5,225,675 riders on an average weekday and 260 weekdays a year which comes to = $3,057,019,888
How much is their yearly budget anyway?

Dec. 15 2009 10:29 AM
brian from brooklyn

Mr. Mayor would not be worth 16 billion without the MTA. Where's the problem? -the money is right there.

Dec. 15 2009 10:25 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Ok, for the cheapo that doesn’t want to pay anything what so ever to educate the children he willfully made, we seem to have a lunch program where those who cannot pay get reduced or free lunch, so why can’t that happen with the ride to school?

Dec. 15 2009 10:25 AM
Robert from NYC

I used to pay 50 cents for a bus pass in the 60s why not just charge the kids $1.00/week for the metrocard! It's something and not much at the same time. I don't agree with charging them full fare that's unfair, really unfair but I'm sure $1/ week would be acceptable.

Dec. 15 2009 10:24 AM
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn

Pardon if this is a difficult concept-

The MTA cutbacks must be looked at in terms of big-picture city development policy. These cutbacks to lower income neighborhoods are equivalent to a form of affordable housing cutback.

To paraphrase urban planner Alex Garvin, `development-oriented transit’ is preferable to that which the Bloomberg administration is doing too much of: `transit-oriented development’ (e.g. Atlantic Yards). For instance, city investment to put light rail, bike lanes and trees along 21st Street in Astoria as Mr. Garvin recommends (going west to the East River to create a new “public realm”) would, Mr. Garvin predicts, create tremendous amounts of new housing and the community would NOT be opposed to the investment.

See: Tuesday, July 22, 2008, At MCNY panel, defending dissent and promoting the better way to develop (not like Atlantic Yards).

Here we are cutting back on transportation to areas where there is affordable housing (and where more perhaps more could be built). At the same time, as Mr. Russianoff was making the point on the program, we are diverting MTA revenues into the net-loss-to the-public Nets arena and luxury housing developments like Hudson Yards and Atlantic Yards.

Michael D. D. White
Noticing New York

Dec. 15 2009 10:24 AM
Smokey from LES

We need to bite the bullet and get MTA adequate funding to stop these annual threats to cut service. We wouldn't accept periodic water service or flushing our toilets every other day. Good mass transit in New York city is just as vital. The politicians have to stop with the funny financing that have saddled MTA with insecure funding. Shame!

Dec. 15 2009 10:23 AM
Derek from 42nd St.

11% raises? I only get a 3% raise and it goes to the MTA in fare hikes. Great lay off 700 workers to keeo the raises now that is the MTA working efficently to keep they pay raises. The MTA is a financial disaster every year.

Dec. 15 2009 10:23 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Ok, full disclosure, I don’t live in Queens, just look at my name. That said, I’ve commuted on the A/C and N/R/D/B/F while living in Brooklyn and I often see practically empty W, V, and E trains while waiting for an R, F, or C. Why would someone want to defend keeping zombie trains on the tracks when they are clearly underutilized from midtown to lower Manhattan. The fact that some of these trains share the exact same lines when they get into Queens seems like overkill.
On Espada’s call for the MTA to sell its real estate holdings. That’s a fantastic onetime fix and permanent loss of revenue for the MTA
I agree with #7, why is the MTA paying TWU members so much to sleep in air-conditioned booths and give out misinformation—especially during service changes of which they seem to know very little.
Lastly, I see there’s a lot of outrage at the Mayor over the failings of the MTA. How much power do you think NYC really has over its transit system after it had to hand it over to the state in the ‘70s?

Dec. 15 2009 10:21 AM
Sean Pisano from Brooklyn

What does their real estate deals have to do with trains and buses? Why should people have to suffer for the transits bad real estate deals. The budget for their real estate and the budget for operating should be separate.

Dec. 15 2009 10:20 AM
Martin Strasmore from Weston CT

The budget shortfall of the MTA is tiny compared to the profits of the big NY banks, and the bonuses of the 3 CEO's who did not get to DC in person yesterday to meet President Obama.
Have them each cover or sponsor specific items for one year - like the cost of giving metrocards to school kids, or supporting a bus route that would have closed etc. It will make them look good and save them taxes and support the communities they are in.

Dec. 15 2009 10:19 AM



Dec. 15 2009 10:18 AM
Eric from Park Slope

While subway lines are being cut, bus routes are being eliminated, and school kids are having their passes taken away, the MTA is selling its Vanderbilt Yard to bruce Ratner for less than half its appraised value -- with sweetened payment terms, to boot, so he can build a money-losing arena that nobody needs.

That's something that should truly outrage all New Yorkers.

Dec. 15 2009 10:16 AM
Lars from Windsor Terrace Brooklyn

If the MTA is so short on cash, why not charge Forest City Ratner the full value of the Atlantic Yards property?

And why are the TWU workers getting such a huge income increase when most wages are stagnating, if workers are lucky enough to have a job at all? Penalize the TWU for their illegal strike a few years back, nullify their current contract and attach new increases to the economic health of the city. No money? No raises.

Dec. 15 2009 10:16 AM
Murray from Hartsdale

People accept things without questioning if they are still necessary. My question, I will ask at the MTA Board meeting tomorrow, is why they still blow the train horn before the train passes a station? It would be more useful to use the station PA system to inform people on the station platform.

People in soundproof cars, listening to the 8 speaker radio, cannot hear a train horn anyhow. So why use it?

Saving money by getting rid of useless systems is hard. But millions of dollars can be saved this way.

Dec. 15 2009 10:15 AM
RJ from prospect hts

It's striking that the fare increases--and tax abatements given for, say, the Atlantic Yards project--are okay taxes for the poor and working class of the city but the mayor won't consider a wealth or income tax for the rich. He professes to be "afraid" that the rich will leave and take their tax-generating income with them, but then it's the incomes of the working poor and working- and middle-class that are taxed. The city straps the working- and middle-class to the city--who make the city run, who keep it the cultural place it is--and worries about the wealthy who live above it.

Dec. 15 2009 10:14 AM
Sean Pisano from Brooklyn

Again these people are not holding the MTA accountable for the bad business decision they have made. Including going forward with all the construction projects that are not useful right now.

Stop letting the MTA off the hook.

Dec. 15 2009 10:14 AM
Jon from NYC

Even though they're now obligated to open their books, no amount of transparency can possibly offset the back room mentality of the MTA suits.

Maybe we should have a 24/7 C-SPAN (City-SPAN?) channel with cameramem following each of these guys until the truth finally comes out.

Dec. 15 2009 10:13 AM
Rachelle Arkin from United States

Please let us know who were as the riding public can make the most efficient protest to in terms of our public officials?

I agree with a previous post that the MTA should go after green stimulus money.

I am personally outraged.

Dec. 15 2009 10:12 AM

Wait. During the election, Mr. Bloomberg promised us over and over that he had a plan to fix the MTA. Has anyone asked him just what that plan is? Or was he *gasp* lying?

Dec. 15 2009 10:12 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

It's the constant brinksmanship that's so demoralizing. It's just a game of chicken -- the MTA proposes something ridiculous so NYC or Albany will have to save the day.

Dec. 15 2009 10:11 AM
Daryl from Heights

Just passing a huge construction site on the Carroll St. stop I thought the MTA had did something smart and sold their land, opening a new entrance across the street. But wishful thinking. They're building a whole new station. For what? How much is that costing?

Dec. 15 2009 10:10 AM
Jesse from Glen Cove

The MTA really needs a zoned system!
The London Underground is a good example. You pay for the distance you travel.
$2.25 for the ENTIRE system is too cheap.
Those of us who travel short distances are subsidizing those who travel great distances.
Where is the fairness.

Dec. 15 2009 10:09 AM
bernard joseph from brooklyn

if you ride the subway you know why the MTA has budget problems all of the time. it's real simple- too many overpaid underworking employees. the TW union has such a stranglehold on the citizens of this city it is sickening. don't we all witness the "aggressive inaction" on display EVERYDAY wherever you are in the subway system on a daily basis?
if you ever leave this city and see other big cities comparable to NYC you really see how dysfunctional out transit system is. service is always bad and it will just get worse. the fix is in for the unions and the agency EXPECTS a certain amount of funding every quarter and they don't look at their ACTUAL, NECESSARY budget.

Dec. 15 2009 10:09 AM
D from NYC

Can someone please post a link to the exact lines that are being cut? Thanks.

Dec. 15 2009 10:07 AM
lucy K from Brooklyn

No comment from either the governor or the mayor on these cuts? No discussion on examining the MTA's books or the other 800 money wasting public authorities to find cost saving measures.

Now the kids can't get to school, will hang out on the street, get into trouble and cost the criminal justice system millions more. Now that is planning!

Dec. 15 2009 10:01 AM
Bobby G from East Village

Why is the MTA spending $700 billion -- before cost over runs -- on the East Side Access Capital Project at a time when service is being cut. It makes no sense. Postpone this project until the MTA can afford it. If you want to get from Penn Station to Grand Central take the 4, 5 or 6 one stop and S, the most on time, efficient line in the whole system. Maybe it takes a little longer, but it saves $700 billion.

Also, I've always wanted to know how much does the MTA pay in debt service?

Dec. 15 2009 09:59 AM
Josh from Brooklyn

I understand the financial straits the MTA finds itself in. Mismanagement aside (do they still have two sets of books?), a budget still needs to be balanced. However, these cuts are missplaced. To cut the student-free cards is simply stupid. We need to make it easier for kids to go to school, not hang out on the corner. Don't take financial frustration out on the kids. Hello? What about a family in a tenement on Avenue C who's kid got into Bronx Science and doesn't have $89 to get there? Any cuts are undesirable, but the W and Z probably get the shaft. Why aren't we looking at the Times Square-GCT shuttle? The 7 can serve as a substitute.

Dec. 15 2009 09:40 AM
jtt from jackson heights

Shouldn't there be a whole lot of "green stimulus" money for this?

One would think that after decades of New Yorker's tax money subsidizing air conditioning in Las Vegas, the Feds could help us to make the largest and most used mass transit system in the world the best and most efficent in the world as well.

Seems no matter who runs Washington NYC gets screwed.

Dec. 15 2009 09:37 AM
Susan from Astoria

Let's see if Bloomberg can really accomplish ANYTHING with the MTA now that he's bought himself Mayor-For-Life.

Dec. 15 2009 06:38 AM

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