But their vote is far from the final word.
These are nothing more than empty scare tactics; no one expects such draconian measures to actually pass. The MTA is cynically attempting to manipulate public opinion in order to push Albany to enact the Ravitch Plan, which would also raise fares by a smaller amount and impose new tolls on the East and Harlem River bridges.
Why should we choose between bad and horrible? Why should working people pay more to commute into Manhattan? They surely aren’t driving in for fun or because they like to drive—there just isn’t enough public transit in many of the outer boroughs, Long Island and Westchester.
What about the stimulus money? They are using it in such a way that it’s not going to benefit the budget problem in our region. Instead they are using it for pet projects, like the extension of the 7 line, something only of interest to the big developers.
The MTA should open its books so that the public can see exactly how much money they need, how much is wasted or spent on projects that can wait.
The federal stimulus money gives $1.4 billion to the MTA, and $24.4 billion for the state and city. We need to set up a public control council for the use of all this money, to make sure that it’s used in the interest of regular, working people and not for the pet projects of the billionaires and big developers.
Also, New York straphangers pay a higher percentage of operating costs for our mass transit system than almost any other city in the country. Money from the general funds should be directed to transit, and a tax on those making more than $250,000 yearly would help fund that and other necessary services.
The MTA itself should be radically altered, so that its leadership represents the people of New York. Look at its board. Its voting members are mainly a bunch of big developers and Wall Street financiers, the kind of people who have brought disaster to the U.S. economy—does anyone really think that these people can represent New York’s working population? The board should be more representative of New Yorkers, and should include labor, as well as organizations of the racially and nationally oppressed, and people involved in the fights for better education, health care, really affordable housing and against foreclosures.
If the MTA board wants to do what’s right for New Yorkers, they should resign.