News, commentary and analysis by leaders of the Communist Party USA in New York State. We discuss State politics and issues in New York City, covering developments in labor, civil rights education, housing and more.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

City Subways Fail to Make the Grade

Straphangers Campaign of the New York Public interest Research Group (NYPIRG) has released their annual "State of the Subways" report today.

As any regular rider of public transport in the city can tell you, Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) has failed to make the grade.

Combining data on the subway services as well as surveys of commuters, the report shows that the services are deteriorating as are rider's opinions of it. The report found that "car breakdowns worsened from a mechanical failure every 156,624 miles in 2006 to one every 149,646 miles in 2007." There was little improvement in clarity of subway car announcements, available seats and subway car cleanliness. Plus, service from line-to-line varies widely. Overall, commuters rate the rider unworthy of the current $2.00 fare.

Ridership is at an all-time high in the city due to gas prices and clogged freeways. Yet the subways and bus systems have not improved accordingly. Quite the contrary. In June the MTA announced that it was postponing repairs on a number of lines due to projected deficit.

This is the backdrop too the recent proposal from the MTA to increase subway fares yet again. If implemented next year's fare hike will be only the second ever back-to-back increase in the history of the system. The MTA's contract with TWU Local 100 expires early next year as well, and there will no doubt be attempt to pit low fares against transit worker's demands.

The state of the subways is clearly in decline. The main problem is that straphangers are being asked to fit the bill while the big corporations and employers in the city (who could never do business here without the subway system!) don't pay their fair share.

Plus, debt relief to pay off the loans the MTA accrued in the 1970s now adds up to nearly 20% of the budget...and growing. That's 40¢ of every farecard swipe!. The debt should be wiped clean. The banks have been more than paid back. That coupled with a targeted tax of city's biggest corporate employers can avoid a fare hike and even ensure growth of the public transport system.

We need the subways now more than ever. The public transportation system is the only way to make a city like our livable, sustainable and affordable. Riders don't mind paying their fair share, but only if corporate America pays theirs too.

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