Saturday, November 22, 2008

Spend a lot, get a little

This must be the new motto of the New York City Mass Transit Authority because they released their planned proposal for next year and it is, in a word, craptastic. Facing yet another year of major budget deficits they decided to do what they do best - increase the fares and tolls. If the plan is approved the cost of a subway ride will most likely increase to $2.50 and a monthly card will now cost $100. If these fare hikes happen, subway riders will be paying over 80% of operating costs for the New York City subway. But wait, there's more. Not only will we be paying more but we'll be paying more for less (which equals worse) service. The MTA plans on cutting the W and J lines entirely, decreasing the G and M routes, and cutting back on all trains. That means that for $100 a month we'll be standing on platforms longer, squeezing into more tightly packed trains (didn't think that was possible, did you), and creeping along at a slower pace. Oh yes, and they also plan on cutting more than 2,000 jobs.

The fare hikes may make more money for the MTA but the ramifications of their plan will be staggering. With gas prices dropping, many people are already planning to do more driving and less mass transiting. That means more single car drivers, more congestion in the city, and more carbon emissions in the environment. It will basically unravel any environmental work being done by green groups in the city.

This makes me angry and it should make you angry. Every year the MTA comes up short and every year the only option they claim to have is to raise fares on us. The subway system is the transportation for most people in this city, sometimes the only transportation for people, and the MTA takes advantage of this fact. They half-heartedly claim that the plan won't go through if they get money from the state but we all know that the state has it's own billion dollar deficit to deal with. So that means the fare hikes will be their goldmine.

But if we are going to be paying for the majority of the operating costs then we should demand transparency of the MTA finances. Most people know that the MTA seems to work off of two different sets of books, making money magically appear after they claim to have none. Subway riders need to demand that we see exactly what the MTA is working with and where our hard earned money is going. This city is quickly becoming a playground for the wealthy while leaving the rest of us digging deeper and deeper into our already empty pockets.

Get angry, New York. After all, isn't that what we're known for?

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