PRESS STATEMENT

For immediate release: December 16, 2009
Contact: Kate Slevin, Veronica Vanterpool, Tri-State Transportation Campaign
Phone: (212) 268-7474

TSTC Statement on MTA’s 2010 Budget and Service Cuts

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign strongly opposes the deep service cuts and elimination of free student Metrocards approved today by the MTA board.

The MTA’s financial crisis is the result of a reduction in state aid, higher than anticipated operating costs, and lower than anticipated receipts from the payroll tax.

Governor Paterson, Mayor Bloomberg, and the MTA must consider other options to plug the agency’s financial hole. The burden cannot fall solely on transit riders who are already paying higher fares. And it certainly shouldn’t fall on the backs of our schoolchildren.

We urge the MTA and our elected officials to consider the following options:

  • An increase in City support to the MTA. The City’s contribution to the system has remained stagnant for years. And it is NYC residents, especially our schoolchildren, who will be hurt the most under this plan.
  • Push for federal transit operating support in the jobs bill recently announced by President Obama. Preliminary reports put transportation expenditures in the bill at $48 billion. The House of Representatives will be discussing the bill this afternoon and is considering allowing a small percentage of this money to be used for transit operations. The MTA has strongly opposed federal assistance for transit operations in the past, but the agency’s current situation proves that it is time to reconsider this policy. As the largest transit operator in the country, the MTA’s support would be powerful.
  • Find real cost savings. New MTA Chairman Jay Walder has promised to "take the place apart" to reduce costs, and has cited $500 million in overtime spending, a large rise in the cost of construction, and 5,000 administrative positions as unacceptable practices. The MTA must aggressively seek cost savings, while elected officials must support those efforts.  
  • Consider innovative tolling methods. A 2007 Tri-State Transportation Campaign study found that variable tolling on the MTA crossings could raise new revenue, save drivers time, and help stop fare increases or service cuts.  Variable tolls charge more during congested times of day.  That analysis is available at http://www.tstc.org/press/2007/081607_MTA_tolls.pdf.
  • As a last resort, “flex” 10% of the agency’s federal stimulus money from capital projects to operations. This would amount to nearly $100 million and help stop the service cuts. This is an unsustainable stopgap measure that will only postpone the problem. We do not generally support capital dollars being raided for operations. However, this is a dire situation that may require emergency action.  

In the long run, city and state leaders must find more sustainable funding sources for the MTA. Our region’s future economic and environmental health depend on it.

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Tri-State Transportation Campaign is a non-profit organization working towards a more balanced, transit-friendly and equitable transportation system in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.