MTA Budget - Good Or Bad?
Today, the MTA released its revised proposed budget for 2007. The good news is the agency has a huge surplus and is proposing no fare hikes or service cuts next year. The bad news is this might mean financial trouble down the road. Here's the statement we released:
“Short-term, the news is good for subway and bus riders.
No fare hike or service cuts in 2007, better security training for transit workers and better radios for MTA police, painting for all 468 subway stations, more intercoms in subway cars and increased resources to fight subway scratchitti.
How could the agency raise fares and cut service while running a $711 million surplus this year? Given the past history of top elected officials ripping off one-time transit surpluses, it's right to earmark them now for worthwhile projects. The surplus also reflects the healthy state of the region's employment and economy, to which the transit system contributes mightily.
The longer-term is much more challenging. The MTA predicts big deficits for 2008 ($805 million), 2009 ($1.127 billion) and 2010 ($1,488 billion.) In large part, the deficits represent the bill coming due for the MTA's massive borrowings in recent years. The Straphangers Campaign does not think these numbers are scare tactics or that they can be addressed by only looking at fares and service.
The MTA's budget and four-year financial plan put the hard issues squarely in the lap of Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer. He will have to provide the leadership to hold fares affordable, offer decent service to a record number of riders, find news administrative savings, and raise funds from those sectors of the region's economy who benefit from the by far biggest mass transit system in the nation, from drivers to businesses to real estate.”
Posted Nov 29 2006 by Gene Russianoff
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How Do You Spell Relief? Less T-R-A-F-F-I-C.
Last week, a coalition of 125 groups – including the Straphangers Campaign – announced the launch of The Citywide Coalition for Traffic Relief, calling on city officials to take five steps to for a more livable city:
1. Give bus riders, walkers and bicyclists more street space and priority
2. Traffic-calm streets to curb speeding and reckless driving
3. Reduce the impacts of truck traffic
4. Do serious feasibility and cost/benefit study of road pricing
5. Improve parking policies to reduce illegal parking and curbside saturation
You can read the full release here and let us know what you think.
Posted Nov 21 2006 by Gene Russianoff
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Governor Spitzer And Transportation
Dear fellow rider -
Elliot Spitzer is now New York's Governor-elect. What can he do to win better transit here is the metropolitan-area?
I've written up a quick wish list, which appears below. What do you think?
Some steps a new governor could take are:
- increasing the state's capital contribution to the MTA;
- helping to meet looming deficits by giving all the proceeds from transit-dedicated taxes to transit;
- setting clear priorities among the several expansion projects now under consideration;
- not sacrificing the core rebuilding program to expansion projects;
- make State Independent Budget Office a true independent monitor of the MTA;
- appointing a visible and independent MTA Inspector General;
- making the State Public Transportation Safety Board
independent of State DOT;
- reviewing NYC Transit policies to reduce the human presence in the subways, such as OPTO;
- considering new fare discounts, such as 14-day unlimited MetroCards;
- revise MTA contract and lobbying data bases to make them more
transparent and useable;
- speeding up the timetable and increasing the commitment to Bus Rapid Transit;
- making the MTA board more demographically diverse;
- aggressively monitoring the MTA's short-term and long-range plans to improve security;
- looking for innovative ways to increase service on crowded bus, subway and commuter lines; and
- increasing cooperation between management and its employees.
Posted Nov 9 2006 by Gene Russianoff
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Vent Your Inspiration!
Ok, subway enthusiasts (or critics) - get ready to put pen to paper and enter "Vent Your Inspiration," a subway poetry contest.
The Straphangers Campaign, Art for Change, The Bowery Poetry Club, Vent Your Inspiration and The Subway Chronicles encourage you to compose engaging, dynamic, funny or sad poems to convince transit officials that we need better riding conditions.
Winning poems will be posted to our website and sent to the MTA and Governor's office with a request for an action plan.
The submission deadline is November 20, 2006 and winners in each of six categories will be invited to read their poem at the Bowery Poetry Club on December 3, 2006 from 5 - 7pm.
Grand Prize is a 30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard!
For more information or to submit an entry, visit the Straphangers Campaign homepage or www.ventyourinspiration.org .
Posted Nov 1 2006 by Neysa Pranger
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