Contact Kevin Parker about Transit Cuts

bksubway
I just received an email from a neighbor providing details on how to contact State Senator Kevin Parker if you live in his district and support funding public transit with minimal tolls on the East River bridges:

If you live in State Sen. Kevin Parker’s district, and you support the
part of the Ravitch plan that includes East River tolls to pay for
transit, you might want to let him know. He’s one of 5 Democratic
State Senators opposed when the plan needs unanimous Dem support.
If the MTA doesn’t get much needed funding subway fares will go up 23%

that’s $103 for a monthly Metrocard – and there will be longer waits
between Q trains that are already overcrowded at almost any time of day.

The current toll proposal is for a $2 toll (less than a subway fare).
Tolls would be levied by photographing cars as they drive by so it
would not cause lines or traffic jams.

All of our taxes have paid for roads and bridges, so why should we
bear alone the burden of paying for transit? Besides, tolls and better
transit will reduce traffic, making drivers’ lives easier, improve air
quality and fight climate change.

I phoned both Sen. Parkers’ offices and snail-mailed letters to both.
I hear that a mailed letter packs more punch than an email, but hurry,
the vote is soon! At least a phone call will help. And if you
disagree, disregard.

District Office
4515 Avenue D
Brooklyn, NY 11203
Tel:  (718) 629-6401
Fax:  (718) 629-6420

Albany Office
411 Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Tel:  (518) 455-2580
Fax:  (518) 426-6843

To find out which State Senator represents your area, click here.

3 Responses to “ Contact Kevin Parker about Transit Cuts ”

  1. More info on the upcoming M.T.A. vote in yesterday’s NY Times editorial:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/13/opinion/13fri4.html

    The pull quote: “Yes, the M.T.A. could always be more efficient, more transparent, but that is no excuse to punish the millions of New Yorkers who rely on public transit.”

  2. Parker is doing exactly the right thing. The MTA isn’t your friend? They’re thieves and any rescue is just a cover up of their previous recklessness and lies.

    The Evil that is the MTA

    Ruben Safir March 12th, 2009

    The Metropolitan Transit Authority is the single biggest threat to the
    long term stability of New York City. It has been standing on the throat
    of this city for decades, squeezing the economic life blood from this
    town. It has proven to be an irresponsible steward of this cities
    transportation network. It has political muscle and protection unlike
    any organization in our government. Unlike a private enterprise, it has
    no need to constrain its budget for the purposes of profitability.
    Unlike a government organization, it escapes any kind of voter over site
    at the ballot box. We are all victims of the MTA and its reckless use of
    government funds, and misguided priorities. This people, the voters of
    the City of New York, can never give the MTA enough funds to satiate its
    endless budget. Every dollar they acquire, they budget for completely,
    and then they spend one more. The MTA must die if the City of New York is
    to live.

    First of all, every citizen of this city needs to come to understand the
    basic facts of the MTA. It is an independent authority chartered under
    New York State Law which has no over site. It has an independent agenda.
    That agenda benefits the MTA, and is not designed to benefit New
    Yorkers. The MTA is not our friend, nor does it respond to our needs,
    and most of all it does not respond to public pressure or scrutiny. It
    borrows money and leaves the bills for the taxpayer and straphangers. It
    subsidizes suburban growth, and leaves the bill for the inner city
    working class. It buys glitzy toys, like underground radio systems, a
    connection for the LIRR to Grand Central Station along with the building
    of a new level at the terminal, it buys a new extension of the 7 train to
    the Javits Center, new cars with digital signage, elevators, and electronic
    billboards, it builds a completely uneeded new station complex at Fulton
    Street to bribe politicians who can’t figure out how to rebuild the WTC,
    but it ignores basic safety and traffic needs like switches and steel rails,
    station maintenance, and subway cars with enough signs to know what
    train your hoping on without needing to look over the platform with the
    train arriving. And then they spend hundreds of millions of dollars to
    preach to us. Don’t run up the escalator, Don’t lean over the platform
    (so then how do we know what train is coming since they have removed
    most of the side car signage), don’t walk between cars (which was really
    useful at stopping over crowding for nearly a hundred years before some
    idiot decided it was too dangerous), pick up your trash, and give your
    seat to a pregnant women.

    Enough. We can’t take it any more. In 2000 the MTA tried to ram part two
    of its capital budget program down our throats, by permitting the MTA
    more borrowing than it could ever afford, about 1.6 billion dollars with
    another 2.2 billion dollars of pork for upstate highways and roads. It
    was rejected soundly by the voters of New York State. But the MTA is
    like a fly. If you swat it away, it just comes back. In 2005 the MTA
    launched an “education program” for yet another statewide referendum,
    this time worth 2.9 billion dollars in funding. In 1995 the New York
    Times reported that State lawmakers were aghast at the 4.5 billion
    dollars that the MTA would need to borrow between 1997 and 1999. That’s
    right, we’ve been playing this game for a very long time. And the major
    infrastructure we got was the retirement of the perfectly usable Red
    Bird Cars on the IRT, and the completely unnecessary electronic signal
    system for the ‘L’ train. Is it that hard to safely run trains on a
    line that has exactly one outbound and one inbound track that we had
    to pay almost a billion dollars for it? And with looming service cutbacks
    was it worth it? And the station rehabilitations that were necessary,
    did we get them? Well? Maybe, sort of. They cost us way to much and
    took way too long according to Joseph Rappaport of the Straphangers
    Campaign “All we’re getting in station rehabs is what we were already
    promised, and we’re getting it three years late and having to shell out
    more in the fare to get it.”

    In 2003 the MTA attempted to side step the whole process when it created
    YET ANOTHER corporation in their authority with the creation of the
    Capital Construction Company with responsibility for overseeing system
    expansion projects for all MTA companies and managing their bonds. The latest
    plan for the MTA is for the state to do the same for the bond driven capital
    program through a charter. So then we’ll have yet another organization
    completely disenfranchised from the City’s electorate or even sensitive to
    the operations or fare burden, and which can raise fares and taxes without
    any over site whatsoever. Oh, and for those not watching, you should note
    that the latest Richard Ravitch plan calls for the elimination of public
    hearings for fare hikes.

    Don’t you love the Metrocard. Fares can be raised at will with a few key
    strokes.

    Yet between 1981 and 1991 over 16 billion dollars was spent on MTA
    capitalization. And that barely made a dent. The 2001 capital program
    borrowed money for a 1.1 billion dollar expansion of the LIRR to reach
    Grand Central Station. Who from the city would want this at the cost of
    a 2 dollar fare hike and service shutdowns? But these proposals go
    through the Capital Program review board which the Mayor is outnumbered
    by statewide office holders 3 to 1. And that is how we get this shoved
    down our throats. And when horse trading erupted over the 2nd avenue
    subway for the LIRR expansion the MTA responded with a two tier bond
    program that brought out older less expensive dept for a greater new
    bond act over a longer time. Predictions at the time were that this
    massive debt would cause fares to skyrocket up to $4.00. But that is not
    the MTA’s problem. Its just the problem of the poor guy schlepping to
    work or ibringing his family around to the museum from Brooklyn and Queens.
    It was known as a fact that this program would put massive pressure on MTA’s
    finances between 2005-2009, just as it has. And the program in 2000 was
    decried by everyone in the know about the MTA including the then former
    MTA chair Robert R. Kiley and Gene Russianoff, the same lawyer pushing
    not for east river bridge tolls, and who both wrote jointly at the time,
    “In sum, it is our conclusion that the plan not only does not fund new
    capacity, it threatens the ability of the MTA to continue its State of
    Good Repair program for this and future plans.”

    Need to see more? In February of 2004 the Mayor took the MTA to court to
    stop it from funneling monies for the Subway to buy new Metro North cars
    (NY Times: Feb 26th, 2004). The New York Times wrote then:

    The mayor is trying to exert influence on an obscure state panel that
    has the power to deny the $230 million in financing that the
    Metropolitan Transportation Authority needs for the new rail cars. He is
    also considering going to court over the issue if necessary, according
    to a senior aide to Mr. Bloomberg who spoke only on condition of
    anonymity.

    Then in December of 2004 the Times published this:

    Four years ago, the governor of New York and leading state legislators
    gave permission for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to pay off
    old bonds by borrowing $14 billion, creating a steep pile of new debt
    for a transit system filled with ancient structures, middle-aged
    equipment and little money to replace them.

    Today, with the M.T.A. facing short- and long-range financial crises,
    the public benefit of that decision remains a matter of vigorous
    dispute.

    On April 3rd, 2000 the Times published this little tidbit:

    In the last month, government and private analysts have developed a
    striking consensus that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s
    five-year, $16.5 billion capital improvement plan is a
    disaster-in-waiting, built on a mountain of borrowed money, that would
    force a major fare increase.

    They say the crush of debt would cripple the authority’s ability to keep
    New York City’s subways and buses and the commuter railroads in good
    repair, and would make the financing of future capital plans nearly
    impossible. The plan would require by far the largest sale of municipal
    bonds in history, more than $20 billion.

    October 3rd, 2004:

    The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is projecting budget deficits
    of more than a billion dollars in the coming years, and another round of
    fare increases and service cuts appears imminent. But now transportation
    authority officials want to spend even more money to continue to
    maintain the system, and even the authority’s critics are hard-pressed
    to fault them for it.

    The trouble is, no one has quite figured out how to pay for the
    improvements.

    “I don’t think there’s any question that more money is needed for the
    system’s operation and for upkeep and maintenance,” said Doug Turetsky,
    a spokesman for the Independent Budget Office, a nonpartisan city
    agency, on the financial quandary. “The question is where those
    resources are going to come from.”

    On the authority’s shopping list: more than $17 billion in system
    upgrades and replacement of old equipment, $500 million for security
    improvements and several billion dollars for expansion projects,
    including the building of the first phase of the long-awaited Second
    Avenue subway and connecting the Long Island Rail Road with Grand
    Central Terminal.

    It is all part of the authority’s proposed five-year capital improvement
    plan for 2005 to 2009, sent to Albany last week for approval. Making his
    priority clear, Peter S. Kalikow, the authority’s chairman, said he
    would be willing to sacrifice the highly publicized expansion projects
    if it meant protecting the $17 billion for the existing system.

    “This is the minimum number that we will accept,” he said Wednesday at
    the authority’s board meeting. “It’s the minimum number to keep the
    system running.”

    It will be up to lawmakers, however, to wrangle over how to come up with
    the money, or if they even can.

    The problem is a familiar one for the authority. Similar hand-wringing
    accompanied the passage of the authority’s current $19 billion capital
    program for 2000 to 2004. In the end, much of that program was paid for
    by bonds, repaid out of riders’ fares. But that has left the authority
    facing a mountain of debt. Payments coming due on that debt are at the
    core of the authority’s struggle with its operating budget.

    As Gene Russianoff, a staff lawyer for the Straphangers Campaign, a
    transit advocacy group, put it, “Their credit card is maxed out.”

    Authority officials have made clear that issuing more debt, paid for by
    riders, would be extremely difficult, if not impossible.

    October 25th, 2005:

    New York’s city and suburban transit network faces enormous,
    fast-growing debts and budget deficits, with no clear plan for
    addressing them. It raised fares last year, plans to raise them again
    next year and warns that it may do so again in 2006.

    This is not a surprise to people who monitor the Metropolitan
    Transportation Authority. The current situation was predicted four years
    ago by, among others, former top transit officials, fiscal watchdogs
    like the Independent Budget Office and the Citizens Budget Commission,
    the state comptroller, business groups like the New York City
    Partnership and transit advocates like the Regional Plan Association and
    the Straphangers Campaign.

    The financial problems, critics contend, are the direct result of more
    than a decade of policies by New York State, New York City, and the
    authority, which operates the city’s subways, buses, bridges and
    tunnels, and the Metro-North and Long Island commuter railroads. In
    particular, they point to a $17 billion capital maintenance and
    expansion program adopted four years ago that was broadly denounced at
    the time as a fiscal time bomb.

    March 6th 2003:

    The decision of transit officials to propose substantial fare increases
    to close a budget shortfall has not ended a bitter political fight about
    whether the public should be given more information about the
    Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s budget.

    The state comptroller, Alan G. Hevesi, a Democrat, has subpoenaed 18
    cartons of budget documents from the authority and forced three of its
    top budget officials to give lengthy depositions about their
    bookkeeping. He vowed today to continue that inquiry to its conclusion
    no matter what the authoritys board decides on Thursday when it votes
    on the fare increase.

    Both Mr. Hevesi and the New York City comptroller, William C. Thompson
    Jr., called on the authoritys board to postpone the vote Thursday until
    Mr. Hevesis office completed its review of the authoritys books.

    MTA debt is what is driving up the fares of the MTA. They have been
    rolling in public financed doe through out the fat years and now they
    must face the reality of a deep recession and a declining City economy.
    And it is LONG time for New York City to get its SUBWAY BACK without the
    interference of Albany. It is time for the Queen of Hearts and to stop
    the lies that our current state legislator is somehow responsible for
    the MTA’s crimes. If a massive fair hike comes on March 25th, it will be
    squarely the fault of the MTA. OFF WITH THEIR HEADS. It is high time to
    end the MTA

  3. Ruben Safir, aka “Mr. Brooklyn”, is hereby declared winner of the “Longest Comment Ever Submitted to Sustainable Flatbush” contest… hands down.

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