Anger towards the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is something that is almost exclusively reflected by New Yorkers or daily commuters to the City from Long Island, upstate, Westchester, and Connecticut. The New Jersey transit system is another beast entirely and while New Jersey drivers need to deal with the bridges and tunnels, they generally have a ‘this-side-of-the-Hudson’ mentality which enables them to get things done on their own turf.
So MTA news is always of interest to me. I was shocked to hear that bridge and tunnel fares are proposed to be going up a staggering 18% for non EZ Pass holders. News LI (1) reminds us that this proposed increase is, “the fifth in seven years.” The MTA recently raised the subway fares and the fact that they kept doing so in years past was what lead me to live in absolute squalor (at least it was within walking distance of everywhere I needed to be.) So frustrated are New Yorkers towards this constant increase in being able to get around that The Inept Owl (2) recently satirized a “New York City Pedestrian Tax” being put into random effect (it could happen!).
I was interested to see that Carl Paladino/Andrew Cuomo debate the other day because I was sure that one or the other of them would call the other out and at least I’d have a candidate I could stand behind. Sadly, it was apathy and angry rhetoric of little substance which ran the day. I feel no closer to being satisfied that either candidate for governor has any real interest in getting behind anything besides the status quo in this discussion, despite the anger they wave about.
NY 1 (3) reports that “The MTA is a convenient and popular punching bag.” Indeed, you always hear local and state politicians invoking the MTA with some kind of anger. You’d figure that “the agency (which) runs transit in New York City and suburbs,” would have some kind of a deep rooted connection to the area where they lay most of their tracks. The agency is “run by the governor,” despite the fact that the governors home turf in New York is 150 miles upriver in Albany. So naturally there is something of a disconnect for New Yorkers between the state government and the daily city operations of something like the MTA.
During the debate there was the typical, expected, angry rhetoric towards the MTA from both sides of the isle.
Paladino said of the MTA “we have, without question, one big beast that keeps sucking up money.”
Cuomo said of the MTA, “It’s another example of a government that’s inefficient, wasteful, and a government that doesn’t get it.”
Okay. That’s nice. But at the end of the day, NY 1 reminds us the only thing Paladino or Cuomo really want is “more power.”
Paladino claims he would give MTA chief Jay Walder the pink slip, is against congestion pricing, wants to end “a key MTA tax source – a New York City regional payroll tax” and says that he “would gut the agency (MTA), audit it, and fold it into his cabinet.” Such radical claims as Paladino’s never come to fruition. He may fire Walder but someone just as incompetent will take the reins because of the powerful voice of the Transit Workers Union.
Cuomo seems to understand that, just like you can’t fight Washington, you also can’t fight the TWU. Cuomo wants to “revisit” items like the payroll tax, is “open to discussion” on congestion pricing, if Mike Bloomberg wants to look at it again, though he adds he doesn’t think it would pass, and Cuomo says he wants high-speed rail connecting New York City and Albany and Albany and Buffalo. Cuomo also says he wants to “keep the state as a leader in infrastructure,” yet he’s hush to reveal his plans to pay for these improvements. Moreover his tepid language towards the meat-and-potatoes issues leads me to conclude that the only thing Cuomo needs is a little pushback from anyone and he’ll recoil like a cowering pussy cat.
Back to reality NY 1 reminds us the city and the “state’s transportation needs are huge. More than a third of the highway bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete,” so when is any real change going to happen?
You can’t fight the TWU. Even, apparently, the governor, whose office functionally operates the MTA, knows that.