Monday, April 4, 2011

First do this, than you can have that.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or the MTA, is vital to the City of New York, and to a varying degree, the State of New York. It provides twenty-four hour subway service around the city, as well as operating countless bus routes in and around the city. It is one of the big selling points the city and the state has to offer to tourists, new residents and businesses alike. It provides rail service up to the outer reaches of Long Island of the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) and bus service with Long Island Bus. It also provides rail service into parts of Upstate New York and Connecticut with Metro-North Railroad.

However, for all the benefits the MTA provides, it gets constantly shortchanged by the State of New York and for the services it provide to Nassau County via Long Island Bus.

Every year, when the state has a budget gap to fill, it always takes a swipe at the funding it is supposed to provide the MTA, giving it less and less every year, not realizing that it is putting the economic health of the city and the state on risk- forcing the MTA to do what must do with much less- thus forcing it to cut back service like it did in 2010, when it cut two subway lines, reduced or completely eliminated 110 bus routes and scaled back service on the Long Island Railroad and Metro-North. All of this would have been avoided had the state met it's financial commitments to the MTA- and when the MTA had to these cuts, since by law it must have a balanced budget- lawmakers blasted the MTA, either completely forgot they were responsible, were clueless, or were just being opportunists- in other words, hypocrites. Now, when the MTA needs funding the most, they want to eliminate the payroll tax at exactly the wrong time- thereby forcing the MTA to possibly make even more cuts. So, if they want to take away the payroll tax, they are going to have to give up something in return. So here they are....

  1. Create a transit "lockbox" to protect dedicated state aid toward the MTA from the hands of the state legislature and senate- by law or preferably, amending the State Constitution.       
  2. Introduce Congestion Pricing or 'Traffic Pricing' to the city- A fee would be charged on all non-emergency cars  entering Manhattan below 61st Street, either $6 in both directions or a flat out fee of $12- or install it on all the 'free' East/Harlem River Bridges- in effect raising the area up to Inwood- and provide some much needed cash to the MTA-be it for the Capital Budget or the regular budget. Either way, this money would be for the sole use of the MTA.
  3. Re-introduce the Commuter Tax- This would also provide a dedicated source funding to the MTA and would be applicable only to jobs here in the city. 
  4. Reduce, but not completely take away the payroll tax- reduce the the areas affected for example, or the tax by 4-9 cents to 30-25 cents  out of 100 dollars-still a tax reduction either way. 
  5. Or adopt a mixture of all four.  
Some will most likely bring up the statement "Privatize the MTA!" To all those who say that- it's not possible. No private company will be able to run what the MTA runs without massive public subsides or by raising fares drastically, as well as reducing services. If anyone volunteers to run the MTA without raising fares, scaling back services and requiring massive public subsides- in short as a private company- please let me know, let the MTA know, and let the city and state know. Oh, and let us know if you can turn out a profit. 'Cause if that happens, then we can talk.