MTA Service Cuts — The Tough Choice Albany Never Has to Vote On

Faced with a budget gap of nearly $800 million, the MTA Board voted to approve a slate of service cuts this afternoon that will affect millions of New Yorkers. The cuts are slated to start taking effect in June. Unless elected officials intervene to close the MTA's deficit, subway and bus riders will have to contend with less frequent service, more transfers, longer walks to the bus, and worse crowding on platforms and trains.

The vote comes as no surprise, but it's worth a short recap of how we got to this point.

Of all the recent factors that helped cause these service cuts -- the state's theft of dedicated transit revenue, the deep recession, the MTA's refusal to use stimulus money to help the agency through lean times -- the one that stands out is our state legislature's intransigence.

Twice in the last two years, Albany had the chance to secure a new funding stream for transit by putting a price on car commuting, first through congestion pricing, then through bridge tolls. Both times, they chose to keep on giving drivers a free ride. Would we be talking about these service cuts if the state legislature had enacted the full Ravitch Plan last spring? Each year, those bridge tolls could have generated hundreds of millions of dollars more for transit than Albany's stopgap solution.

The legislators who failed to properly fund our transit system must be thankful they didn't have to vote today. Other people do that for them.

For a full recap of today's MTA Board proceedings, Ben Kabak at Second Avenue Sagas has the moment-by-moment account.