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John Petro

NY State Senators: Not feeling any urgency to save the MTA

Members of the NY State Senate aren’t feeling much urgency in the need to address the MTA’s finances. The transportation authority has established a March 25th deadline for the legislature to enact a plan that would prevent the MTA from having to implement drastic fare increases and service cuts. With an attitude that completely betrays the seriousness of the situation, NY State Senate leader Malcolm A. Smith is insisting that the MTA is just bluffing. According to the New York Times City Room blog:

“It’s questionable,” Mr. Smith said of the deadline. “We’re just not sure if those deadlines are one that they put for the sake of getting a vote.” A spokesman for Mr. Smith later called the deadline “artificial.”

An editorial in the NY Daily News looks at the State Senators from New York City who oppose the current plan to shore up the transit authority’s finances, called the Ravitch Plan, and the number of residents in their districts who use the NYC Subway on a daily basis. The five Senators identified in the editorial – Carl Krueger, Ruben Diaz, Pedro Espada, Kevin Parker, and Ruth Hassell-Thompson – have a total of just under half a million Subway riders in their districts. If these Senators represent so many straphangers, why is it that they are opposed to a plan that would rescue subway riders from fare increases, eliminated subway and bus lines, and longer waits between trains and buses?

They don’t like the plan to introduce tolls on the East River and Harlem River bridges. A press statement released by three of the Senators – Kruger, Diaz, and Espada – is filled with nonsensical declarations such as, “Tolls hurt the ridership of our city, hurt the general public, and hurt the small business community. It is our shared belief that no plan should annex the boroughs. That is what tolls on the bridges would accomplish”

Regardless of the fact that the Senators need to either look up the word “annex” in the dictionary or to catch up on their history (I believe the boroughs were annexed in 1898), their stance makes no sense based on their constituencies. The Daily News points out that in Espada’s district, 70% of the residents don’t even own cars, much less drive them into Manhattan for work (and why would they, when they have 15 subway stations).

The Senators are also railing against the MTA, insisting that the agency “share the pain.” The sad part is that this vengeful attitude towards the governance of the MTA will ensure that it is the residents of these Senators’ districts that will be feeling the pain most acutely.

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Posted at 10:11 AM, Mar 11, 2009 in New York | Transporation | Urban Affairs
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