Jim Brennan: It’s Okay to Fund Transit With Fees on Driving
Thank you for your email regarding the MTA. the Ravitch Commission has identified that that the MTA faces a combined capital budget and operating deficit shortfall of over $2 billion a year, to continue its construction program, eliminate service cutbacks, and mitigate fare hikes to the 8% range.
I support the proposed payroll tax and would certainly vote for a mix of taxes and fees related to vehicle ownership or use to raise the sums of money the MTA needs. I also agree that the Legislature needs to act as quickly as possible to address the problem.
It's not exactly getting out in front of the issue, but I suppose an indirect statement like this is the politically palatable way to say bridge tolls are a good idea. If you've received any constituent letters from your elected officials in Albany regarding their stance on funding transit, tell us about it in the comments.
We're hearing from advocates that the Ravitch Commission's package of recommendations is getting a warmer reception from state legislators than the congestion pricing proposal did last year, but there's still a lot of convincing to be done. One source in Albany tells us that the key to adopting Ravitch's MTA rescue plan, including bridge tolls, may lie with State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, and whether the Queens Democrat is willing and able to mobilize his conference in support of it.
Readers interested in helping out this weekend to drum up public support for the Ravitch plan are in luck. Transportation Alternatives is organizing six petition drives in Brooklyn and Queens starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday, and they're looking for a few good volunteers. Email wiley [at] transalt.org and specify where you'd like to pitch in: Astoria, Jackson Heights, Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope, Williamsburg or Bushwick. Also, keep an eye out in your neighborhood paper for T.A.'s local ad campaign (posted after the jump).