Skip to content
by Ben Fried
Disaster. A permanent increase in taxes and fees, with drivers on free bridges and investment and retirement income, for the corporate and political oligarchies, exempt.
And what does it get? Enough money to ensure the transit system is maintained on an ongoing basis? No.
Enough to get through five years of ongoing normal replacement, followed by an end to it? No.
The New York Times says it is only enough to pay for two years of the capital plan, but they aren’t telling the full truth.
All those taxes and fees for the next 30 years or more will be enough money to pay for just two years of the capital program, which will actually be funded by debt.
REPEAT AFTER ME: Neither I nor my children have no moral obligation to pay those New York debts not authorized by referendum, of retirement benefits not paid for when earned. If funds are extracted from me to service those debts and unfunded bebnefits, it is only under compulsion backed by the threat of imprisonment. I will vote for any candidate or constitutional amendment promising to repudiatae those debts and unfunded retirement benefits, without concerning myself in the least with the effect on the bondholders and pensioners, who showed no consideration for the future of this city, state and country.
Stick that in your MTA bond rating and smoke it.
“Halleluiah,” Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign said. “It’s great news for subway, bus and commuter rail riders.”
“We have rescued this system from the brink of the abyss,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) said.”
“I am disappointed that they didn’t fund the five year plan,” says Richard Ravitch, the former MTA chief who devised the best rescue plan. “I’m disappointed they didn’t do the tolls. But I’m thrilled they did something.”
Here’s the problem. These have been the transit advocates for the past 15 years, during which a $30 billion debt and other liabilities from the past have been run up. And they’ve been saying “Halleluiah” (when they should have been saying “shame”) the whole time, because the benefits are up front and the costs deferred to a future they don’t care about.
The brink of the abyss? That’s where they have left us, pulled back only enough for them to get a little older and closer to the exit. And now that they are older, two years rather than five years is enough.
Can they make it until Russianoff moves out, Ravitch sells his property, and a few years after Silver dies, at which point he will finally not be re-elected to the Assembly?
Russianoff said that? What is he thinking? If anyone outside the media has a responsibility for telling the riding public about what’s going on it’s him.
Who pays his bills?
His “keep the fare down at all costs!!!” antics are a big reason for this mess.
“His “keep the fare down at all costs!!!” antics are a big reason for this mess.”
A small reason more like it, but still — at this point it’s “Halleluiah” for a 30% increase in three years rather than one. “Thrilled” about a two-year capital plan funded entirely by debt rather than a five year plan entirely funded by debt.
The debt goes up, expectations go down, and we’re expected to be grateful. Obviously, people who read this site are one hell of a lot better informed that average, but its pretty revolting to see the “engineering of consent” in action.
And someone here said it best — everyone will be directed to blame the “unaccountable MTA.”
How can it not seem like a ripoff when half the money goes to past costs not current transportation? That means it costs double what you get. All government is becoming more and more a ripoff, for similar reasons. In the private sector, where people can choose not be ripped off, the result is Chapter 11 or (for the politically powerful) a bailout funded by yet more debt.
et tu, Russianoff?
Feeble-minded piece on bike lanes as cover story in today’s AM NY
“A small reason more like it,”
I don’t mean to quibble, but Russianoff (with the help of the tabloids…) has only played up the “get something for nothing” sentiment that’s become an all-too-common feature of American politics. Time and time again, the media goes to him for a soundbite about the fare – without any sense of context or perspective about the broader inequities in transportation funding (admittedly, it is the media – but the guy clearly has a pulpit)…
I understand nyc riders pay for a bigger share of the system than other transit users… And I want lower fares too… But without the heavy political lift of something like, say, the Komanoff plan, telling the public they deserve cheap Metrocards without securing the funding is deeply irresponsible.
Failing a massive structural change in how the MTA is funded, he should honestly keep his mouth shut.
I don’t mean to totally ride the guy, but he’s one of the only independent voices who gets media coverage. I do think he shoulders a good deal of responsibility for (not) telling the public about the MTA’s debt fiasco.
It’s outrageous that he’s cheerleading this “bailout” now that the system is putting even *more* on the credit card – all so fares can be held down for a year or two!
Jason A is absolutely right. There’s too much emphasis on the fare, not nearly enough on the service cuts and the debt crisis, which implies a return to the disastrous deferred maintenance of the ’70s. It’s not that Russianoff and other advocates don’t talk about these things — they do — but they don’t emphasize them enough as primary talking points. If someone sticks a microphone in your face, you have only a few seconds to make your case, and if you start by talking about the fare, admittedly an emotional issue, the odds are excellent that your other talking points will get cut from the soundbite. This becomes a wasted opportunity to build consciousness about arguably the biggest threat to the subways — the very real possibility of deferred maintenance, systemwide breakdown, and the compromising of public safety. Russianoff has been around long enough to know how soundbites work. He should modify his strategy and get off the subject of the fare when there are far more threatening things glimmering on the horizon.
Can someone pull all of these number together in one place for a way to calculate “What’s your MTA bill?” taking into account all the new taxes and fees. It would help to put someone’s income, Metrocard purchases, taxi usage, car ownership, car rental frequency, etc into one place to calculate your real MTA bill.
I think my MTA bill is going up about 50% all told…
that’s a great idea Glenn…and is something that should be right up the alley for Straphangers
unfortunately, Russianoff seems to be too busy celebrating
“What’s your MTA bill?” What do you count as the MTA bill?
Yes the amount of money “for transit” keeps going up and up and up, with tax upon tax, none ever repealed. But the amount left over after paying for the past keeps going down. To the point where the interest on past debts exceeds what will be spent on the capital plan — before you got more than pay as you go, but forever after you will get less, until its game over and reinvestment stops.
“Municipal bonds sold in 2006 to finance the New York Mets’ Citi Field may be cut to speculative grade, or junk, status by Moody’s Investors Service after the surety bond provider, Ambac Assurance Corp., was downgraded.”
“These guys deserve an award -- Delancey Street Associates, L+M, BFC Partners, and Taconic Investment Partners. And to Council Member Margaret Chin -- turning parking garages into affordable housing is brilliant.”
In response to "Attention EDC: Big Development Projects Don't Need Parking After All"