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Richard Ravitch

Transportation Nation

New Hudson Tunnel: Show Me the Money

Friday, October 03, 2014

We've all had a few days to digest the news the region may need to immediately begin work on plans to build a new trans-Hudson rail tunnel. Now comes the fun part: paying for it.
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WNYC News

The Limits of the City Comptroller's Toolbox

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Former Governor Eliot Spitzer launched his run for city comptroller with a promise to renew his efforts to reign in Wall Street excess.
But he would have a much more limited set of tools in that position.

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WNYC News

A Closer Look at Gov. Cuomo's Budget Proposal

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Money for longer school days, an increase in the minimum wage, and more revenue from gambling – these are among the ideas Governor Andrew Cuomo laid out when he detailed his proposed budget of nearly $137 billion Tuesday ($143 billion including federal aid for Sandy recovery). The governor is also calling for a new financing plan for some pensions.

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The Empire

'The Capitol Pressroom' with Susan Arbetter

Monday, February 13, 2012

Today on "The Capitol Pressroom":

Governor Andrew Cuomo will appear on the show at approximately 11:45 am.

In her State of the City address a few weeks ago Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner announced the creation of a 3-person financial advisory board to help city leaders come to terms with Syracuse's bleak fiscal future. One member of the trio is former Lt. Governor Richard Ravitch who is credited with preventing NYC from falling into insolvency in the mid 1970's. Both Ravitch and Miner join me on "The Capitol Pressroom" today to discuss the future of Syracuse.

And what really happened to shape the health care reform debate in the months leading up to passage of President Obama's health care reform bill? Read Richard Kirsch's new book to find the answers. Richard Kirsch is an Institute Fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government and a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt institute. As the national campaign manager for Health Care for America Now he was on the front lines of the battle to get what critics have dubbed "Obamacare" passed. His new book "Fighting for our Health: The Epic Battle to Make Health Care a Right in the United States" wryly documents the PR and political intrigue that shaped the narrative outside the beltway.

For show archives, please visit The Capitol Bureau's website here.

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Transportation Nation

Budgeting By Credit Card: How The NY MTA Got Into Debt And Why It Must Get Out

Thursday, August 25, 2011

(Colby Hamilton -- New York, NY - The Empire) Jay Walder’s resignation as head of the NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority last month caught city and state officials totally by surprise. The man that had guided the transit agency through the fiscal crisis fallout by implementing harsh but largely unavoidable cutbacks—fare hikes, and budget gouging—was leaving. He’s taking a gig in Hong Kong that pays three times as much, running a system that is posting sizable profits.

A few days later, Walder and the rest of the MTA board dropped the latest budget numbers on riders. The agency’s five-year capital program—the money pool that pays for big projects like the 2nd Avenue subway line and the 7 train extension, as well as overall maintenance—was underfunded by $9 billion for the final three years. The agency is adding a fare hike in 2015, on top of the scheduled fare increase next year. It also wants to borrow $6.9 billion to help cover these costs.

This is a sorry song that New York straphangers have been listening to for years now. The public response was less of an outrage than an exhausted sigh. Given the perennial state of crises the MTA finds itself in, and the continued financial burdens being passed along to riders, it’s worth remembering the immortal words of David Byrne: “You may ask yourself, ‘Well, how did I get here?’”

How DID we get here?

There are many factors that have led to the abysmal fiscal situation of the MTA. Tax receipts vanishing in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis didn’t help. Neither does Albany legislators’ stealing funds from the agency to pay for other things. The agency’s debt obligations alone take 20 cents from every dollar it pulls in.

Likewise, many people could—and should—be held responsible, from elected officials to appointed board members, unions to business leaders. But out of this pool of transit tragedy one person bears a disproportionate responsibility for the current mess the nation’s largest public transit system is in.

That person is former Governor George Pataki.

Understanding how the Pataki administration is culpable for today’s problems requires heading back to the beginning of 1980. To be fair to the Pataki people, the former governor was in many ways just following the trail blazed by his predecessors. For the 20 years prior, the MTA had borrowed to finance its upkeep and improvement, a decision that saved the system. But what started as a fiscal pill to quiet the immediate pain of a system nearing collapse turned into a budget addiction that has torn the agency apart.

For more, go to this story on WNYC's Empire blog and continue reading after subhead, "An Initial Rescue."

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WNYC News

Ravitch Offers Blunt Assessment of His Time as Lieutenant Governor

Thursday, December 09, 2010

New York’s departing Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch gave a blunt assessment of his term in office Thursday. Speaking at a Rockefeller Institute forum, Ravitch said he didn’t feel like he accomplished very much during his time serving under Governor David Paterson.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: LaHood Toys With Scrambling Technology, LA Mayor Says Homes Can Be EV Ready in 7 Days, and Good Week for American Auto Manufacturers

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Star Ledger is intrigued by the 7 train proposal. "Can this really work? At this stage, who knows? But let’s kick the tires and find out." Meanwhile, the New York Times looks at Flushing and Secaucus: "These two very different places might one day be knitted together by a single rumbling artery: the No. 7 subway line."

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa promises to make Los Angeles homes electric car-ready in under seven days (Los Angeles Times). And he also wants to make public transit free for kids on field trips. (Daily Breeze)

The Albany Times-Union devotes an editorial to Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch's depressing transportation analysis. "What his report doesn’t clearly say is that the state must stop playing the game of using money meant for construction to pay for operating expenses."

Is Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood looking at scrambling calls in cars? "There's a lot of technology out there now that can disable phones and we're looking at that," he told MSNBC. (Fast Company)

Charlotte scales back light rail expansion plans, looks at public-private partnerships. (Charlotte Observer)

What a week for the auto industry: the Chevy Volt wins "Car of the Year."  And General Motors stock is on a joyride. (Detroit Free Press)

The Federal Aviation Administration is preparing for a busy Thanksgiving holiday travel week by working with the Department of Defense to clear the way for commercial aircraft to fly in airspace normally reserved for the military. (FAA)

BMX whiz Danny MacAskill goes "Way Back Home" from Edinburgh, Scotland, to his hometown of Dunvegan, on the Isle of Skye.

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Transportation Nation

New York "Must Prevent a Self- Destructive Backsliding" on Transportation Infrastructure

Thursday, November 18, 2010

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch released a report today that says New York needs billions of dollars just to maintain its aging infrastructure--and "has no credible strategy for meeting future needs."

"Because of the constraints on the State’s resources, New York must refocus its transportation program to emphasize state-of-good-repair, safety and security, more efficient and cost-effective project delivery, and better regional planning," he writes in the report.  "While politicians often speak of doing more with less, the fiscal reality of the next decade may dictate that New Yorkers learn to do less with less."

We'll have more analysis later. You can read the full report below.

43136674 Lt Governor Report Transportation Capital Needs 1

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: What's the Likelihood of the 7-Subway-to-Secaucus, Exxon Mobil to Clean Up Greenpoint Oil Spill, and Happy Anniversary, 150-year-old Bike Sho

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New York's current lieutenant governor, Richard Ravitch, will release a report today that lays out the transportation challenges facing incoming governor Andrew Cuomo. Such as: failing to come up with a long-term plan to fund transportation infrastructure "means surrendering any plausible chance for a prosperous future for New York." (Wall Street Journal)

Bus Rapid Transit debuts in Atlanta. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Exxon Mobil agrees to clean-up a multimillion gallon, underground oil spill that has vexed Greenpoint (Brooklyn) residents for decades. (WNYC)

Fiat returns to the U.S. auto market (NPR).  The base model costs $15,500.

You may want to temper your #7 subway-to-Secaucus hopes. According to the New York Daily News: "The chances of a subway line running to New Jersey anytime soon hover between slim and none, a top transportation official said Wednesday."

Besides: MTA head Jay Walder says they can't afford a fourth "megaproject." (AM New York)

NJ Transit may privatize parking at some locations. "Under the SPACES (System Parking Amenity and Capacity Enhancement Strategy) initiative, firms would vie for the exclusive right to collect parking revenues at the sites throughout the decades-long agreement." (The Times of Trenton)

Faces of Distracted Driving launches -- an online video series featuring people who have been killed or lost loved ones. (New York Times)

The world's oldest bicycle shop, located in Surrey, England, is marking its 150th anniversary. (Your Local Guardian)

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Transportation Nation

New York Gubertatorial Candidates on Transit Tax: One Against, One Would Put it on the Table

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

With all the news of the newNYC MTA fare hike proposals, it's hard to remember last year's effort to bail out the MTA. Richard Ravitch (now the Lt. Governor) had been commissioned by New York Governor David Paterson to develop a plan to bail out the MTA. That proposal included two main sections -- a 0.34 percent tax on employers in the suburban counties surrounding New York, or about $200 per employee making $60,000 a year, and bridge tolls on some East River bridges. For reasons understood fully only by Robert Moses, some New York City bridges across that river are free, others, owned by the MTA, are tolled.

The bridge toll proposal went nowhere. But the tax was passed, and New Yorkers who make even the tiniest amount of freelance income get an unpleasant quarterly reminder from the New York tax department that their MTA mobility tax is due. Not that most New Yorker' love the MTA as it is.

Now a Westchester County newspaper, The Times Herald-Record has asked two of the candidates for governor what they think of that tax (Hat tip: Tri-State Transportation Campaign's Mobilizing the Region blog). Republican Rick Lazio, a former Congressman  says, flatly, he's against the tax. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the Democrat  says:

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Transportation Nation

Why is Transit in Such a Fiscal Hole?

Friday, June 25, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) There's not a transit system in the nation that isn't under water. MARTA in Atlanta is looking a cutting a quarter of its service. The board of the Caltrain, through Silicon Valley, is reserving the option of ceasing to exist entirely. But why is the NYC MTA, the nation's marqee transit system, facing an $800 million budget gap?

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Transportation Nation

What Will Andrew Cuomo Do on Transportation? He's Not Telling.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation). Like moth to a flame, I'm drawn to read every page when a candidate releases a 252-page briefing book. So when Andrew Cuomo sent out his "The New NY Agenda: A Plan for Action" on Sunday night, I was excited. Really.

I wouldn't be spending the campaign waiting for my interview, or listening closely to q-and-a's, or shouting out questions at press conferences. It would be all there, in black and white, the answers to all my questions. Too bad I was wrong.

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