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I told you the Greater New York Area needed to succeed and become the 51st State.
Read this....it is MIND Boggling - the best part is the MTA wants to
increase fares now wothout any PUBLC OVERSITE
December 4, 2008, 11:13 am
Ravitch Unveils M.T.A. Rescue Plan
By Sewell Chan AND William Neuman
Richard Ravitch presented his plan to rescue the Metropolitan
Transportation Authorityâ€™s finances, joined by Gov. David A. Paterson,
left, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. (Photo: Seth Wenig for The New
Updated, 12:48 p.m. | A state commission led by Richard Ravitch, a
former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, presented
a wide-ranging rescue plan on Thursday for the regionâ€™s subways, buses
and commuter railroads that includes a new â€œmobility taxâ€ on corporate
payrolls in the region; tolls on the free East River and Harlem River
bridges; a much smaller fare and toll increase than the cash-strapped
authority has threatened; few service reductions; and improvements in
The Ravitch Report
The complete proposal submitted to Gov. David A. Paterson by the
Commission on Metropolitan Transportation Authority Financing, Dec. 4.
* Read the Report [pdf]
The plan â€” presented in a 19-page report [pdf] â€” would permit automatic,
inflation-adjusted fare and toll increases every two years without
public hearings, ending what Mr. Ravitch called a cyclical â€œpolitical
circus.â€ The plan would allow for a state takeover of the city-owned
Harlem River and East River bridges, which have historically been free
to drivers. The new tolls would be collected electronically, without
The regional mobility tax â€” 33 cents on every $100 of payroll â€” would
provide $1.5 billion a year, and the tolls would produce $600 million in
net revenue a year ($1 billion a year in gross revenue minus expenses),
Mr. Ravitch said. The new revenue streams would help finance borrowing
for a $30 billion-to-$35 billion M.T.A. capital plan for 2010 to 2014
that would help stimulate the economy while maintaining vital
â€œThis is a major stimulus bill to New York State,â€ Mr. Ravitch said at a
morning news conference at the governorâ€™s office in Midtown Manhattan.
â€œThe number of projects being canceled and terminated as a result of
inadequate financing,â€ he said, is â€œadding enormously to all the other
problems this financial crisis has imposed on everybody.â€
Gov. David A. Paterson and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg joined Mr. Ravitch
for the announcement, and broadly endorsed his recommendations. Their
support means that the plan now lies in the hands of the State
Legislature, where support is far from certain.
â€œThis is open to negotiation,â€ Mr. Paterson said, while adding: â€œWeâ€™re
going to need to both houses of the Legislature to cooperate with us.
But I must reiterate to everyone here, these are tough times, and
difficult choices will have to be made â€” by legislators, by executives,
and even by the riders and rivers in the greater metropolitan area, with
respect to the M.T.A.â€
Moving to curtail possible legislative resistance, Mr. Ravitch said that
his commissionâ€™s recommendations came as a whole.
â€œThis all fits together,â€ he said. â€œThis is not a series of separable
recommendations. This is an effort to spread the burden amongst the
largest group that one possibly can.â€
In April, Mr. Paterson asked Mr. Ravitch â€” who was widely credited with
rescuing the transit system in the early 1980s â€” to lead the commission.
Its 13 members were appointed in June. The commission held seven full
meetings from June to November and three public hearings. The news
conference today was held one day in advance of its Dec. 5 deadline for
presenting its report.
Mr. Ravitch said the authorityâ€™s fiscal problems were of an â€œenormity
that no one was able to predictâ€ even back in April.
â€œThe enormity of the operating deficit of the M.T.A. would require a
draconian fare increase and draconian service cuts this year,â€ he said,
adding that those cuts would be â€œill-afforded.â€ He said that riders had
to pay â€œtheir fair share,â€ but that â€œthe growth and prosperity of this
city needs above all a healthy and growing and vibrant transportation
Mr. Ravitch warned that there was currently â€œnot one hard dollarâ€ for
the M.T.A.â€™s next five-year capital plan, which is to extend from 2010
and 2014 and could cost as much as $14 billion.
He called for â€œa regular, recurring revenue stream that is
inflation-sensitive, that will reflect that an improved transportation
system will increase riders, add immeasurably to the prosperity of the
region.â€ In contrast, he said, since 2004, â€œno new resources â€¦ only
existing M.T.A. operating revenuesâ€ were used to pay for capital
The plan would create a new Capital Finance Authority and be the
repository for the new payroll tax and the revenue from the new tolls.
â€œIn Year 1, the proceeds of the tax will be utilized to defray a large
part of the fare increase and a large part of the service cuts,â€ Mr.
Ravitch said of the new â€œmobility tax.â€
Mr. Ravitch said that the â€œinadequacyâ€ of bus service was a constant
theme encountered by the commission and that expanding express-bus
service into and out of Manhattan for commuters was a priority.
He urged the creation of a Regional Bus Authority, within the M.T.A.,
that would â€œexpand and rationalize bus serviceâ€ and create new Bus Rapid
Transit routes. â€œThere are enormous efficiencies to be realized,â€ he
said. â€œThe growth of bus service has been quite extraordinary.â€
Finally, the commission urged the M.T.A. to be more transparent in the
development of its next five-year capital plan and to improve its
management of big construction projects.
Mr. Paterson said, â€œObviously itâ€™s clear from the chairmanâ€™s
presentation how important the functioning of our mass transit system
has to be in this particular region.â€
To cut service and impose a 23 percent fare and toll increase â€” as the
M.T.A. has said it will have to do without a new source of revenue â€”
would be to â€œgo right backâ€ to the parlous conditions of the transit
system in the 1960s and 1970s and create a â€œdebt economy,â€ the governor
Mayor Bloomberg, stepping up to the lectern, joked: â€œI could have gone
to the Giants game. Itâ€™s probably safer here at the moment.â€
â€œI donâ€™t think you could have put a study in more capable hands than
Dick Ravitch,â€ the mayor said. â€œThis is as guy who understands the city,
he understands the M.T.A., he understands all the pieces.â€
The mass transit system was key to the â€œgreener, greater New Yorkâ€
envisioned in his administrationâ€™s PlaNYC 2030 plan for environmental
Mr. Bloomberg noted that his 2007 congestion-pricing proposal â€” which
would have charged most drivers $8 a day to enter Manhattan south of
60th Street â€” died at the hands of the State Legislature.
â€œThe Legislature stated at that time that they could find other
solutions to the M.T.A.â€™s longstanding fiscal imbalances, and Iâ€™m
pleased to say that the Ravitch Commission today is offering them more
information and options,â€ Mr. Bloomberg said.
Mr. Bloomberg at one point reacted angrily when a reporter asked whether
the city had done enough to to promote its congestion pricing plan,
which would have raised hundreds of millions of dollars for mass
â€œThis should not be about personalities,â€ he added. â€œThis is about the
greater good of everybody.â€
Asked to predict how the Legislature would act, Mr. Ravitch sounded the
only note of uncertainty of the entire news conference.
â€œIâ€™d be kidding you if I said I could predict the outcome,â€ he said.
â€œBut I do know that under the kind of leadership that the city and the
state have, there will be a good outcome for the people who use the
Even before the news conference ended, environmental, transportation and
labor advocates issued statements endorsing the Ravitch plan.
â€œMass transit is the No. 1 sustainability issue facing the New York
metropolitan region, but there is a chasm between the needs of our mass
transit system and its current funding,â€ said Marcia Bystryn, president
of the New York League of Conservation Voters. â€œOur economy and
environment will quickly deteriorate without a robust, properly funded
transit system. The Ravitch Commission recognizes the gravity of this
situation, and we hope our partners in government will as well.â€
Gene Russianoff, lawyer for the Straphangers Campaign of the New York
Public Interest Research Group, praised the reportâ€™s financing
recommendations. In a statement, Mr. Russianoff largely praised the
report, but raised two concerns:
A proposed regional bus authority will need to come with safeguards to
prevent harmful cuts made in the name of eliminating â€œduplicativeâ€
service. Previous proposals in Albany have contained moratoriums on
cuts. Labor unions representing transit workers have understandable
worries about how their members would fare under a regional bus
We also question the proposal for regular biennial fare increases. The
Straphangers Campaign is concerned that an automatic funding source will
discourage efficiencies, promote waste and be unnecessary given future
possible finances of the M.T.A.
William K. Guild, chairman of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee
to the M.T.A., said in a statement:
Riders already bear an exceptionally large proportion of the cost of
operating the M.T.A. system through their fares, compared with riders of
other large transit systems nationally, and they should not be forced to
shoulder an ever larger share of this burden. As ridersâ€™ fares do not
cover even the cost of operating the system, the cost of capital
improvements must be shared among the other beneficiaries of the system.
We urge our elected officials to promptly consider the Ravitch
Commission recommendations and to enact adequate means of funding the
M.T.A.â€™s operating and capital needs.
Roger Toussaint, president of Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union,
which represents employees at New York City Transit, the M.T.A.â€™s
largest division, offered a measured statement that raised concerns
about the reportâ€™s bus proposals:
While we have not yet seen the Ravitch report, some of its reported
elements are worthy of consideration.
On the other hand, we understand that it also contains recommendations
regarding the establishment of a regional bus company. Several years
ago, the M.T.A. attempted without success to gain regional bus
legislation through the New York State legislature and through labor
negotiations. Since then there have been no negotiations. Nor have we
been consulted with or informed of this element of the report before
Such a major step cannot be taken without appropriate scrutiny and
without negotiations with the unions concerned. T.W.U. will strongly and
completely oppose any attempt to accomplish this through the back door.
Opposition to the proposal for tolls on the four free East River bridges
â€” the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg and Queensboro spans â€” quickly
City Councilman Bill de Blasio, a Brooklyn Democrat, praised the Ravitch
Commission for its efforts but said he was â€œdeeply concernedâ€ about the
toll proposal. An alternative, he said, might be a free on vehicle
registrations, as the city comptroller, William C. Thompson Jr., has
â€œIt is just bad public policy to ask people who live and work in the
outer boroughs to fill our budget gaps, regardless of their financial
ability to do so,â€ Mr. de Blasio said. â€ I strongly urge the commission,
Governor Paterson, and Mayor Bloomberg to consider other interesting
proposals, such as a progressive commuter tax or Comptroller Thompsonâ€™s
car registration proposal, which would raise adequate revenue without
unduly burdening New Yorkâ€™s outer boroughs.â€
Councilman John C. Liu, chairman of the City Councilâ€™s Transportation
Committee, proposed a higher payroll tax in exchange for no bridge
tolls. He said in a statement:
The fiscal situation is no doubt dire at the M.T.A. and with city and
state governments. The Ravitch Commission has succeeded in blunting the
harm to our mass transit system and its riders. The proposed payroll tax
is a bitter pill but among the lesser of necessary evils in that the
burden is spread widely and as sparingly as possible.
In contrast, tolling the East River Bridges imposes too large a burden
on a relatively small part of the populace who have fewer choices in the
first place. These tolls are also highly inefficient as, according to
published reports, $1 billion in tolls would need to be collected to
achieve net revenue of $600 million. These tolls are also highly
divisive and carry too much emotional baggage.
Rather than tolling, the proposed payroll tax should be set at 0.46
percent instead of 0.33 percent to achieve the same target revenue.
Councilman Simcha Felder, Democrat of Brooklyn, said in a statement:
Many low and middle income residents in the outer boroughs live in areas
that are underserved by public transit. To have them disproportionately
carry the burden of rescuing the M.T.A. is unfair. How can you tax
people to enter Manhattan when you donâ€™t provide them reasonable
alternatives? We need to find a way to distribute the responsibility of
bridging the M.T.A. budget gaps fairly and evenly.
A copy of the Ravitch report is below:
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