Thursday, March 26, 2009

1.2 Billion Dollars Short And Decades Late

MTA Makes Straphangers Pay For Its Mismanagement, Abuses

Well, the MTA Board has gone and done it. Raising fares and tolls -- anywhere from 25% (NYC Transit) to 75% (Nassau Bus) -- curtailing and eliminating service, and threatening to bankrupt the ridership, sticking out its tongue at the NYS Legislature (which itself has done nothing to head off the portended devestating hikes and service cuts), and sticking it to everyone who must or chooses to use mass transit.

Shame on the MTA. Its board members should be be lost forever 'neath the streets of Manhattan as the men who never return!

It never had to come to this, of course. The MTA, over the past quarter century or so, could have avoided this mess -- even with the hardships occasioned by the current fiscal crisis -- had it managed OUR money effectively (or at all), forgone the spending binges of good financial times, and opened itself up to public scrutiny (after all, it is a PUBLIC Authority).

Then again, the state legislature could have headed this disaster-in-the-making off at the pass, engaging in at least a tad of oversight over these many years, or, more recently, by adopting the so-called Ravitch Plan, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, which, if not making the increases and cuts unnecessary, then certainly lessening their impact upon a public that can barely spare a dime, let alone an extra buck fifty for a bus ride in Nassau county.

High drama in hard times.

Off course, this isn't the end of the story. Now that the MTA has done its dirty little deed, the legislature and the Governor will have no choice but to intercede, in effect stepping in to bail out the MTA -- if not to the tune of the body's $1.2 billion shortfall, then in sufficient sums so as to make the fare/toll hikes and service cuts somewhat less severe, if not entirely palatable.

Think they won't come to the aid of the MTA? Think again.

First off, the MTA is too pig -- er, ah, too big -- to fail. Will they let the entire transit system go under? Perhaps they should. Bury the bones and start from scratch.

Then there's what we call the "Lindsay snowstorm factor". A blizzard paralyzing the City of New York for two weeks back in February of 1969, nearly ruining Mayor John V. Lindsay's re-election bid (he lost the Republican Primary, only to be re-elected as an Independent, splitting the Democratic and Republican vote), and, destroying any shot he may have had at the presidential nomination.

The state legislature, although safe and snug until 2010, knows full well that the electorate has a memory sufficiently long so as to hold its Assemblymembers and Senators accountable for any hit to the wallet occasioned by the MTA's actions.

And where's the money coming from to bail out the MTA? Remember that $26 billion in stimulus money, courtesy of the feds? Make that $24.8 billion dollars, or somewhere in the neighborhood.

Indeed, as we reported in an earlier post, the NYS Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Cabinet has asked for citizen suggestions, public proposals on how your federal tax dollars should be spent.

Well, here's a no-brainer: $1.2 billion to bail out those pinheads at the MTA.

Hey, we can pay those fare and toll hikes now, or our grandkids can pay back the trillions in bailout money later. Tough choices, and they all stink!

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