Yesterday, the MTA Board passed its “doomsday budget,” officially putting riders on the hook for massive fare increases and service cuts if state elected officials don’t pass the Ravitch Commission’s recommendations or some other plan to save the system.
The consequences of state inaction are dire. The Regional Plan Association has released fact sheets for each of NYC’s five boroughs detailing where service cuts would take place — virtually everywhere in New York City. In addition, broad cuts to Long Island Bus, the LIRR, and Metro-North (as covered in MTR) mean that if elected officials don’t act, transit riders throughout the region will suffer.
Joe the Driver, Joanne the Transit Rider
The most controversial aspect of the Ravitch Commission’s plan is the addition of tolls to currently free East River and Harlem River bridges. But new TSTC fact sheets show that few workers in New York City and the surrounding suburbs drive to Manhattan. For example, according to the 2000 Census, only 3.1% of Brooklyn workers, 3.5% of Nassau County workers, and 4.4% of Westchester County workers drive alone to Manhattan to work.
Furthermore, in most of New York City, households that own cars make roughly twice as much money as those who do not own cars. This gap is even larger in Staten Island and the surrounding suburbs, where car-owning households make as much as three-and-a-half times as much as non-car-owning households.
Given the data, it’s fair to ask who elected officials need to be looking out for. Is it Joe the Driver, who on average doesn’t drive to Manhattan? Or is it Joanne the Transit Rider, who makes half as much as her driving counterpart and is at risk of fare hikes and service cuts?