Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ravitch: Lower Fare Hike with Tolls, Taxes

Richard Ravitch was announced earlier this year to be the chairman of a committee that would investigate and propose plans to help the New York City MTA get out of its debt and back to better financial standing in both the short and long terms. He was appointed by Governor David Patterson mainly due to his prior appointment in the 1970's to head a similar committee to do the same thing. Back then, the MTA suffered from a lack of investment, bringing unreliable service, deteriorating stations and trains, and along with these, crime. However, his recommendations then helped bring the MTA back to a "State of Good Repair."

This Thursday (today), he presented his findings which were supposed to "spread the burden" amongst the working, middle, and upper classes. In addition, it would affect every commuter in the region that worked or lived in New York City. His proposals included an 8% fare hike for next year, compared to the MTA Board's proposed 25% hike; tolls on all of the currently free East & Harlem River crossings (~$1 billion); a commuter tax (~$1.5 billion) while establishing a Capital Finance Authority and other recommendations. He stated that these proposals "came as a whole," and were not separate deals. The Governor, Mayor Bloomberg, and the MTA lauded the plan.

However, the politicians were at their usual game of whining and stupidity. Moments after the press conference ended, people such as Rep. Anthony Weiner blasted the plan by stating that it was "the same old answer" and that "Ravitch is basically an MTA insider." He also said that the plan was not available online but after a reporter pointed out that it was, he played the class card by saying that it was unfair that the general public could not get access to it. Yet when he was questioned on what proposals he had in mind to save the MTA, he declined to comment. Makes me wish I had not voted for him this past election.

This plan will surely face skepticism, as it already has, although my hope is that with the Straphangers Campaign and some politicians on board will ultimately force politicians to realize: an underfunded mass transit system is a dead one. After all, there is a reason why the city's subway and buses are called the "lifeblood of the city."

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