MTA budget raid would betray riders
New York City's straphangers could get taken for a ride in more ways than one as Albany's annual budget bash rolls toward a conclusion.
The problem is this: Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to pull $40 million out of a pot earmarked for the MTA and use it for unspecified state government operations.
The idea is like picking bills out of our wallets.
The pot Cuomo wants to raid comes from revenue sources -- like real estate transfer taxes, petroleum taxes and a portion of the state sales tax -- that are supposed to be dedicated to the MTA and its customers.
For millions of riders on the city's buses and subways, this money helps reduce what we pay at the fare box.
That's no small thing because:
New York's subway riders already pay for more than 70 percent of the system's operating costs at the fare box -- the highest rate in the nation. New Jersey PATH riders pay about 35 percent.
New Yorkers also have been subjected to a merciless run of fare increases in recent years. Last year's hike was the fourth in five years. The increases have far outpaced the rate of inflation -- and new rounds of suffering are on tap for 2015 and 2017.
And service cuts have compounded the misery. But with $3.1 million in new revenue, the MTA could restore the midday, nighttime and weekend subway service that was cut in 2010 on the 1 and 7 lines and on the A, F, J, L and M lines, according to advocates from the Riders Alliance and the Straphangers Campaign.
The result would be shorter subway waits for tens of thousands of riders on weekdays and weekends.
With $4.2 million in new revenue, the MTA could add four new local daytime bus routes in the Bronx and three new weekend routes.
But it'll need full funding to make that happen.
Riders have upheld their end of the deal despite years of MTA-inflicted hardship. Subway ridership has reached a 65-year high. So now that times are better, how about a bit of respect? The pain train has got to end.