No One Really Likes the MTA Plan


Governor Paterson greeted communters at the Bryant Park subway station this morning, in celebration of the MTA bailout plan that Albany passed last night, though no one seems in a celebratory mood — not even the Governor. “The one thing that I learned through this process,” Paterson said, “is that the public doesn’t trust anything the MTA says.”

Now the question is whether they trust Albany. Complaints about the plan are already coming in. The Drum Major Institute’s John Petro calls it “spineless” and says, “without long-term investments in capital needs, the MTA will forever be facing budget shortfalls, deferred maintenance, crumbling stations, and stalled projects.” Petro previously called for better management of MTA’s runaway debt, and for a bigger and better targetted share of federal transportation funds. “Albany needs to work with New York’s Congressional delegation,” he has said, “to ensure that there is parity in federal transportation funding between road and transit projects.”

“The approach to transit in New York City is completely broken,” says Second Avenue Sagas. “We may have averted Doomsday today, but these issues will not go away until the state’s approach to transportation undergoes a massive reform.” SAS preferred the original Ravitch proposal, which “would have cut congestion while funding a transit renaissance in New York”; alas, “our backwards legislature couldn’t stomach the costs of that plan.”

The Daily News calls it “Albany at its worst.” (Newsday says the same thing!) “The public got a good look at the Assembly’s closed-door way of doing business,” continues the News. “No hearings. No debates. No votes. No accountability by lawmakers. By design, you do not know where your Assembly member stood on bridge tolls – and you never will.” They also questioned the taxi tax plan: “[State senate majority leader Malcolm] Smith would turn the hacks into tax collectors, responsible for tracking how many fares they have and giving the state half a buck for each one. Good luck with that.”

In the farther-flung sectors of the MTA service area, suburban officials think the payroll tax takes too much from their constituents. “There is a lot more money down in Manhattan than there is up here,” says Beacon Mayor Steven Gold, “so that’s where I think they should be looking for their increases.” The Manhattan Institute’s Nicole Gelinas doesn’t like it either: “The $1.5 billion annual payroll tax created to fund the deal is a tax on jobs,” she says in the Post. “New York is already the least business-friendly state — and Downstate is already hemorrhaging jobs.”

We’re hard pressed to find anyone, from the right or the left, who’s happy with it. But there it is. Now we just have to hope the revenues materialize to pay for it, and that we can make it to 2011.