NYC Public Transit Is On The "Brink Of Catastrophe"

We’ve been banging the drum for a while that public transit deserved more stimulus support.

This is why: New York’s MTA warned today that its fiscal situation “is dire” and if it doesn’t see changes by March 25, it will “order steep fare increases, impose “painful” service cuts, and lay off at least 1,100 employees,” reports City Room

Any government plan that intends to wean us off oil, or cut back on carbon emissions, must support public transit. Rather than build better highways why not construct competent railways?

In New York, it’s not entirely necessary for the government to bail out the transit system, but it will have to implement new taxes at a time when people can’t really afford new taxes. At the same time, they can’t really afford higher subway fares. So it’s a sticky wicket.

This could just be posturing by the MTA, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see a fare hike.

Gene Russianoff, a lawyer for the Straphangers Campaign of the New York Public Interest Research Group, who said “subway, bus and commuter rail riders are on the brink of catastrophe” added it all up:

“We are looking at a $2.50 base subway and bus fare ­– up from $2 – and a staggering $103 for a 30-day unlimited-ride MetroCard. That’s $103 up from the current $81!”

Here’s the Straphanger plan to protect New York’s subway:

  • “A new regional mobility tax … in the twelve county MTA Commuter District as an excise tax equal to one-third of one per cent of wages paid, as well as on individual’s net earnings from self-employment. This tax is expected to generate $1.5 billion on an annual basis.” After 2009, revenues from this payroll tax would not be available for operating needs; in 2010 and beyond, they would go to a new MTA subsidiary exclusively for its rebuilding program.
  • Cashless tolling on the East River and Harlem River bridges: … tolls initially be set on the East River Bridges at the same rate as the MTA’s major bridges and tunnels, and that Harlem River bridges be tolled at the equivalent of the cost of a single ride subway fare. It is anticipated that $600 million will be generated in net toll revenue annually…The revenues … would be used for the upkeep of the bridges, to pay for the costs of installing the electronic toll system, as well as support additional mass transit improvements,” such as better bus service.”
  • A transit fare increase in 2009, but at less than a third of what has been proposed by the MTA, along with rejecting the “harsh” service cuts proposed by the MTA.

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