Gustavo Rivera: Albany Can Do Better Than an MTA Debt Hike

Transit riders in the 33rd State Senate district may finally have a champion in Albany.

During his campaign to unseat disgraced Fare Hike Four ringleader Pedro Espada, Gustavo Rivera didn’t have much to say on the subject of the city’s ailing transit system. But it looks like the northwest Bronx rep is finding his voice.

In this floor speech on the Albany plan to raise the MTA debt ceiling without committing to new sources of MTA revenue, Rivera calls out lawmakers for stealing taxpayer dollars intended for transit, and notes that a 2013 fare hike would mark the fourth such hit taken by transit users since 2007.

The great majority of people in my district rely on mass transit every single day. And when we look at what’s happened in the last couple of years, where the state has at different times raided the MTA and taken hundreds of millions of dollars that is supposedly dedicated transit funding, and instead uses it for all sorts of other things, what this has led to, as we know, is that the MTA has gone into a spiraling hole of debt.

Emphasizing that a quarter of the state’s population gets to work by transit, Rivera goes on to enumerate the massive service cuts endured by city commuters in recent years, from the elimination of bus stops to entire subway lines. While he stops short of suggesting potential new revenue streams, Rivera concludes, “We are not funding the MTA capital plan at the level that we should.”